INDEPENDENT NEWS

Greens oppose urgency for anti-defection bill

Published: Thu 16 Dec 1999 03:28 PM
The Green Party told the Government yesterday it would not support next week's urgency motion, that includes raising the top tax level, if the proposed anti-defection bill was part of the motion.
Green co-leader Rod Donald said the Electoral (Party Registration) Bill - or anti-defection bill - was profoundly undemocratic and gave too much power to political parties.
"It effectively allows parties to gag outspoken MPs. Only voters, not political parties, should have the power to throw out MPs," he said.
"The law can't distinguish between the Jim Andertons and the Alamein Kopus but voters can - and did, at the recent election."
Mr Donald said the Labour/Alliance Government had been aware of the Greens' position since before the election as it was something the Greens had campaigned on.
He said a number of constitutional experts including former Labour Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer opposed the intent of the Bill.
"Sir Geoffrey has said that MPs may be coerced by argument, by public opinion but not by stand-over tactics in closed rooms by party leaders - and we agree.
"Even if we supported its content, the anti-defection bill doesn't deserve to be treated as a matter of urgency," Mr Donald said.
ends
For a copy of a speech by Rod Donald highlighting flaws in the anti-defection legislation, ring the Green Party media office 04 470 6723

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