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Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill receives first reading

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill received its first reading in Parliament today. Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Bill will help uphold the public’s confidence in the integrity of Parliament, MPs and the voting system.

“The Bill will introduce a mechanism to allow an MP’s seat to be declared vacant when that MP departs the political party for which he or she was elected.

“This ensures that it is New Zealanders who determine the shape of Parliament through their votes – rather than political manoeuvring within parties.

“It is a key principle of MMP that voters’ decisions, not political moves within Parliament, determine each party’s share of the seats.

“This Bill puts into law a process to uphold that principle. This will give voters more confidence in the integrity of the electoral system.”

“The Bill will mean the MP departing their party, or that party’s leader, can choose to activate a process to have that MP’s seat declared vacant. This would mean that person would no longer be an MP. The vacant seat would then be filled either at a by-election if the MP was elected as a constituency MP, or by the next person on the party’s list if the MP was a list MP. 

 “Electoral integrity legislation is not new in New Zealand. This new Bill is closely modelled on the 2001 Law considered and applied by the Supreme Court. That Law followed public concerns about MPs leaving the parties they were elected for and it had a ‘sunset clause’ meaning it expired in 2005.

“This new Bill does not contain a sunset provision. The values of integrity and proportionality, and keeping the shape of Parliament in the hands of voters, are worth protecting, and will continue to be just as important in the future.” 

“The Bill will now go to the Justice Select Committee for further review. I encourage all members of the public to participate in the select committee process and have their say,” says Andrew Little. 

The Bill can be found here.