NZ First MP Darroch Ball’s claim that it can introduce a binding referendum on removing the Māori seats from a Bill that entrenches them is false and dishonest, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Nick Smith says.
“Standing Orders 292 (1) and 302 (2) are very clear that any amendment must be consistent with the principles and objects of the Bill. It has been confirmed by the Clerk’s Office that an amendment to require a binding referendum to remove the Māori electorate seats is out of scope and cannot be considered.
“They also ignore the fact that the sponsor of the Bill, Rino Tirikatene, has said he would withdraw the bill as he has the right to do it if it became a vehicle for dispensing with the Māori electorate seats.
“A simple reading of the Standing Orders or call to the Clerk’s Office would have confirmed that NZ First’s amendment is impossible. This is just a ruse for the hypocrisy of NZ First campaigning to scrap the Māori seats but then voting for a bill to entrench them.
“The behaviour of Labour and NZ First over this Bill on entrenchment of the Māori seats has everything to do with political posturing and nothing to do with improving our electoral law.
“Labour and Mr Tirikatene knows the Bill cannot pass but is wanting to use it as a pretence for advancing the case of Māori. NZ First and Mr Ball is playing to an anti-Māori constituency pretending the Bill will enable them to scrap the separate Māori seats. The only thing that is being achieved is exposing how deeply divided the government is on such a fundamental issue as Māori representation in Parliament."
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