The Government is trying to limit scrutiny of its actions by attempting to cut the number of Opposition MPs on select committees because it is short on numbers itself, Shadow Leader of the House Simon Bridges says.
“The role of the Opposition is to hold the Government to account, to scrutinise its actions and to advocate for the views of the people they are elected to represent,” Mr Bridges says.
“One of the most important ways to do that is through the select committee process. But rather than fronting up to that scrutiny, Labour is now saying it wants to allow fewer elected representatives to carry out that vital function – that’s undemocratic.
“While the number of positions on select committees has traditionally matched the number of MPs in Parliament, Labour wants to restrict the number because it doesn’t have enough members of its own.
“This is after Labour’s hopeful speaker Trevor Mallard claimed that under Labour ‘select committees will go back to being creatures of the Parliament and not rubber stamps for the executive’.
“And along with Labour, NZ First and the Greens, have also recently claimed they wanted more powerful select committees to better hold the government to account.
“Reducing the level of oversight is not increasing accountability. It does the opposite.
“Voters elected 56 National Party MPs to Parliament – more than the two governing parties combined - to represent their views and their communities. Under Labour’s plan, 11 of them won’t have that full opportunity.
“Marginalising their ability to carry out their democratic functions is an affront to the voting public who rightly expect their MPs to have full participation in the parliamentary and legislative process.
“We’re willing to compromise but the Government is refusing to.
“The Government must let parliamentary structures fully reflect the decisions of voters and allow its ideas to be tested – that’s in the interests of all New Zealanders,” Mr Bridges says.