David Parker’s attempt to ignore the real and significant encroachment on the rights of elected Members of Parliament is another indictment on this Coalition Government’s track record of a lack of openness and transparency, Shadow Attorney General Chris Finlayson QC says.
“The Attorney General’s rather bizarre and nonsensical attempt to justify muzzling Members of Parliament in the name of proportionality does not pass the sniff test.
“Let’s be clear – this is the price of doing government with Winston Peters. It is nothing short of the Winston Peters’ Self Preservation Bill.
“The Attorney General himself has admitted this Bill will reduce a member’s right to freedom of expression, and ‘have a chilling effect on the expression of dissenting views by MPs.’ The public expects elected members to advocate strongly without fear of being punished by their Leaders for expressing different views.
“His views conclude that hanging on to power at all costs, by restricting the speech of his own Members of Parliament, is more important than allowing them to appropriately and without limitation express the views of their constituents and the public as a whole.
“We expected more from a Government who holds itself up as being the most open and transparent government ever. This is nothing short of a re-run of the former Labour Government, which passed similar Stalinist electoral legislation in their dying days.
“It puts New Zealand in the company of such countries as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Zimbabwe which have similar legislation.
“It frankly surprises me that the Green Party – given their historically staunch opposition to this type of legislation – continues to support the Coalition Government, when they have done nothing to help them.
"National continues to vehemently oppose this anti-democratic piece of legislation.”