Labour commits to canning 'coat-tailing'

Last updated 16:27 04/06/2014

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has committed to legislation that will remove the "coat-tailing" provisions that allow small parties to get more MPs into Parliament.

The party already has a member's bill before the House, but Cunliffe said legislation would be introduced within the first 100 days of a government he led.

Coat-tailing allows for smaller parties that have not reached the 5 per cent threshold, to bring more MPs into Parliament on the back of one MP who may have won an electorate seat.

It also can allow larger parties to do deals that would help smaller parties into Parliament, which happened with ACT and National in the Epsom seat in Auckland.

The Internet Party and Mana have also merged their list, in the hopes of bringing more MPs into Parliament on the coat-tails of Mana leader Hone Harawira, if he retains his Te Tai Tokerau seat.

Cunliffe said he challenged Prime Minister John Key to sign up to Labour's bill, but the party would move to change the Electoral Act within its first 100 days in government, regardless.

"We're saying a very principled and consistent thing," he told Firstline this morning.

"We think it's wrong, no matter who does it.

"That's why we oppose it, that's why we have a bill before Parliament - Iain Lees-Galloway's member's bill - which would remove it.

"And I challenge the prime minister to sign up to that bill, do the right thing by New Zealand people and get rid of this coat-tailing provision.

"And I'll go further. In the first 100 days of a government that I lead, we will introduce government legislation to remove coat-tailing by changing the Electoral Act."

Lees-Galloway's bill seeks to implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission review held after the MMP referendum.

The Government rejected the review proposals, which included abolishing the rule that allows MPs to bring in other members after winning one electorate seat, and lowering the party vote threshold from 5 per cent to 4 per cent.


But speaking to reporters in Tonga today Key said if Cunliffe needed the Internet-Mana Party to form a government after the election he could not then ban coat-tailing.

"If David Cunliffe really believes that ... he simply needs to rule out [working with] the Internet-Mana party," he said.

"If he doesn't think they are legitimately entering Parliament after the 2014 election on the basis that they get enough votes or seats to get in, he should just rule them out."

He said the probability of Cunliffe being able to form a government without those parties was low.

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Key said Cunliffe could not form a government with the Internet-Mana Party and then as one of his first actions rule out their longevity.

There was no chance of a Labour-National deal before the election to get rid of coat-tailing.

Key said the Electoral Commission had recommended several changes to the electoral system and he did not believe it was right to "cherry pick one or two" such as the coat-tailing rule.

He said the were different circumstances between Internet-Mana's plan and National's potential deals with UnitedFuture and ACT.

He also thought it was unlikely Internet-Mana would vote for the provision to be removed.

- Stuff


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