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Peters powerless to jettison Horan from parliament: academic

UPDATED

Prime Minister John Key says Brendan Horan’s expulsion from New Zealand First's caucus has highlighted public frustration with MMP.

Both Mr Horan and party leader Winston Peters were absent from Parliament this afternoon.

The Tauranga list MP has been given two days leave from Parliament, after he was expelled from the party caucus amid allegations of a misappropriation of funds.

Mr Key says while he does not understand all the facts, he took a swipe at MMP, saying justice minister Judith Collins’ review of MMP is timely.

Mr Key says there is some "public frustration" with MPs who enter parliament under the coat tails of a party, then get removed from the party's caucus but remain in parliament.

bcunningham@nbr.co.nz


2pm

NZ First's board meets tonight to deal with ousted MP Brendan Horan's party future.

A senior political figure says the board will do what Mr Peters tells them to do but party president Kevin Gardener already appears to be hedging his bets.

In one breath, Mr Gardener says allegations against Mr Horan are "hearsay" but then says leader Winston Peters, a former lawyer, and other MPs "would have done their homework".

Mr Gardener told NBR ONLINE there are no formal motions for consideration during tonight's internet Skype call.

"It's just, hey, this has happened, where do we go forward from here.

"Until things have been presented to us there can't really be a resolution.

"But there again it's all hearsay at the moment, isn't it?

He says Mr Peters – who sits on the board – has not yet divulged the evidence which led him to fire Mr Horan from NZ First's caucus.

'They would have done their homework'

There are allegations within Mr Horan's family that money has been taken from his dying mother's bank account.

A university academic says Mr Horan can be ejected from NZ First but not parliament, unless he resigns of his own volition or is convicted of a serious offence. 

Nelson-based Mr Gardener says Mr Peters is one of two lawyers amongst the party's MPs and "Winston will have seen stuff that he believes in".

"They would have done their homework.

He says it is hard it has happened but says "there's nothing you can do about it."

"People say you can't check out your candidates but an alcoholic never tells you they're an alcoholic, do they?"

Mr Gardener says the process dealing with Mr Horan's party membership will be "very slow".

NZ First leader Winston Peters is powerless to remove Brendan Horan from parliament, a politics academic says.


Earlier

Massey University associate head of politics, associate professor Richard Shaw, says party membership is the vehicle by which someone is elected to parliament, but once there parliament's constitutional right to control its members trumps that of political parties.

"He's come in on the NZ FIrst party list but the party doesn't have the statutory right to expel him from the parliament.

"It can expel him from the caucus and then he can be expelled from the party, but NZ First as a political party can't tell parliament what to do with its own members.

"The politics of this are awkward for NZ First and a distraction." 

Mr Horan was expelled from the party caucus yesterday and Mr Peters called on him to resign as an MP, over family allegations relating to money apparently missing from his dying mother's bank account.

Under the Electoral Act 1993, Mr Horan is most likely to vacate his seat if he resigns or if he's convicted of a crime punishable by a prison term of two years or more, Dr Shaw says.

Before 2005 – when the so-called waka-jumping legislation expired – Mr Horan would have had to leave parliament if expelled from NZ First.

NZ First board can initiate own inquiry

Mr Horan's lawyer Paul Mabey QC says the list MP is contemplating an appeal to the party board to allow him to stay.

NZ First's constitution says membership can be terminated if the person's conduct is "offensive, undesirable, inconsistent with the welfare and interest of the party, or contrary to the constitution".

The party's board holds a hearing to investigate a written complaint about the member, or it can initiate its own inquiry.

The member must be notified within 14 days of receiving the complaint and the member can be present and heard at the hearing.

Punishment ranges from a censure to expulsion.

dwilliams@nbr.co.nz

More by David Williams

Comments and questions
27

This is the same board that tolerated Winston's distinct lack of frankness over the Glenn donations? It isn't a board, it's Winston's kangaroo court run by Winston for Winston's benefit. How WP can look at himself in the mirror is astounding. Couldn't care a hoot about Horan, but giving WP any credibility is beyond comprehension.

This comment edited for potential defamation - Editor

How can one assume that this is the same board? The board of a political party holds regular election for positions on said board, meaning it is very unlikely that the board has all of the same people sitting on it that it did in 2008.

On the Owen Glen donation issue, the only body to find Winston guilty was a parliamentary privileges committee which was made up of MPs, a majority of whom stood to gain politically from Winston's 2008 downfall. Following investigations by both the Serious Fraud Office and the police found that Winston Peters had done nothing wrong.

Perhaps the only error Winston made during the Owen Glen issue was with his handling of the media. But please do some research and try to think beyond the media-made scandals and open your mind.

Horan has the hide of a rhino.

[Edited]

And Peters hasn't.... Get real.

That a list MP cannot be ejected from Parliament when they are no longer a member of the party, nor sanctioned by that party, is a complete nonsense.

My first thought, too, but not so sure, actually. Explained below.

The party should dump Peters.

Within this dog of an electoral system I agree that a party should not be able to expel a member and that member lose their seat in parliament. Too easy for a party to play fast and loose with any law dismissing a person from parliament merely because they fell foul of the powers that be in a party. They should be barred from joining another party and remain independent until the next election.

I do think if someone deserts their party then they should be kicked from parliament.

But MMP is a s#1t system with far too many flaws and should be dumped in favour of STV.

No wonder National doesn't want to get rid of MMP.

If Key thinks we are frustrated with MMP, why didn't he use his common sense and campaign against it. He missed his opportunity to get rid of this ridiculous system and replace with something/anything better.

Not sure I'd want Winston Peters (or any leader) deciding at their own discretion to dump an MP. Sure, expel from caucus or the party. But the ability for an elected MP to stay in parliament perhaps provides a useful check against bullying leaders, or party leaders ruling by fear. The ability to kill an MP's career on a whim would create enormous pressures to tow the line, and a rise in dictatorial leadership in our political parties. Personally, I'd rather a little noise around the edges than unfettered power by any political party leader. Mugabe, anyone?

The point is surely that Brendan Horan was not elected to parliament. On the basis of the party votes cast, NZ First obtained sufficient to allow a certain representation in parliament and one of those was Horan. Now he has been removed from the party surely NZ First should be allowed to top up its entitlement with the next in line. Maybe there needs to be some tightening up of the process whereby a list MP can be expelled from the party but once out of the party they should be out of parliament as well. It is different for an electorate MP, who is actually voted for by the electorate.

No, we as a nation missed the chance to get rid of MMP at the last election. Don't blame John Key, blame New Zealanders!

*Cry* You lost and MMP won. Stop you whinger. Grow up. That's democracy.

Key is a populist PM.

Key is a popular PM.

Key is the default PM when there's no opposition to vote for.

Dont blame you rednecks for being MMP in situations like this. Horan is probably now the highest paid bludger in the country.

Goes a long way to demonstrates WP’s a poor judge of character. He did it the first time NZF was elected, the ones he brought with him continue to disappoint….

I quite like the idea that political parties are forced to suffer the people they bring into parliament. It should make them take more care who they put on their list. This is one of the features of MMP I like.

You might not like old Winnie but what would all of you armchair experts do when faced with what Winnie says is rock solid evidence? Let Horan stay on in the party and get smashed for doing that with endless leaks and innuendo which could blow up in one's face leading in to an election or make the tough call like a leader should and draw a line under it asap? All you John Key fanboys should note the apparent difference between Winston and Johnny when comparing the Horan/Banks situations. One has the kahunas to sort it when confronted by the evidence, the other doesn't even read the police report. Who is the leader here? Personally, I feel sorry for Brendan Horan and his family but it's bigger than him and he probably can't take a loss of income right now so he's staying on no matter what. And note Key's softly softly approach on this ... he knows who he might need to talk to in a little under two years.

Can someone tell me what a List MP does all day, let alone a List MP with no party backing.

Luckily David Cunliffe has a real electorate seat with a strong endorsement from 17,000 voters in New Lynn. (and heaps around the country).
Had he not achieved this endorsement, (weakly mandated) listers like, Ardern, Cosgrove and Fenton would be trying to get him out of Parliament too.

A list MP owes loyalty to their party, and if they are not happy with what their party does they stay in there and fight, but if they waka jump they should be gone. If however, an MP is kicked out of their party (for whatever reason) they should have the right to stay in parliament until the next election. Why? Because just sometimes they are kicked out because they are fighting for what (they believe) is right. And a party should not be able to silence an elected MP for their own purposes.
We elect MPs to represent the interests of New Zealand citizens and residents. It is our right to elect and to reject them.
List MPs are still "elected", as their names are on the published list for voters to consider.
Brendan Horan - know nothing of this except rumours and speculation. His specific position should still remain within the parliamentary rules, just like everyone else, otherwise we second guess and make subjective decisions. The parliamentary process is too imporant to be run this way.

The people of NZ have a right to expect integrity/honesty of motives from those who rule the country for the benefit of the people, and they pay them to the best of their ability to do so. If we are ruled by people who think of it as furthering their own career as their first priority, then the country is in big trouble. Just look at the countries around the world and learn what is good from what they do.

He was not elected - he can try for that next time. The party put him in and then found his integrity had apparently diminished, leaving them with no confidence in him.They didn't cover it up, they brought it to light. Look at his reason for staying in parliament. Is it really for the people or for himself?

The leader hires, the leader fires. No different to any job! If he was elected by the people, the people should sack him not the leader. Clear example of staying while the money is good.