The Dom-Post's website regularly features a smorgasbord of Letters to the Editor, and we spied this one this morning. We don't know whether Anthony Bates of Paparangi fits into the former or latter category from the previous paragraph, but we reckon that he's right on the money with this - read on:
On February 22, I read in The Dominion Post's This Week in Politics column that the former Labour MP for Te Atatu, Chris Carter, had given his proxy vote to the Greens. The rationale for that move was that both Mr Carter and the Green Party whip, Kennedy Graham, believed it was impossible for one person to be present in the House for every vote.
Accepting this at face value, I recently got around to researching what was keeping Mr Carter so busy. I found that he doesn't sit on any select committees, he's not the leader of a political party, he's not seeking re-election (so he's not campaigning), and he doesn't have a member's bill in the ballot, nor is he the spokesman for anything.
So what is it exactly that is keeping Mr Carter so busy that he can't be in the House giving his constituents the voice he claims is so important (and apparently justifies his $134,800 salary)?
This situation has confirmed what I always suspected - independent MPs are irrelevant and Green Party MPs bankrupt when it comes to political and moral integrity.
Mr Bates raises an excellent point; just what does Chris Carter do to earn his salary, and what accountabilities exist? Do MP's complete timesheets as evidence of their attendance in the House, or are they exempt because they are "honourable"?
Still, at least Chris Carter holds an electorate seat, even though he was elected with the assistance of the Labour Party and the union movement; the Greens exist only as a result of the vagaries of MMP. And as we saw in 2008, the Greens' famous "principles" were of far less importance than getting Russel Norman into Parliament ahead of the two next names on the list, Catherine Delahunty and Mike Ward.
Labour of course has committed its own abuse of MMP and the Party Lists this week, but given that the expelled Chris Carter last year, we won't sully them further just now. Suffice to say though that it is the parties of the left who pushed for MMP as a form of proportional representation, and it is the parties of the left who have abused the process. The voters will decide at this year's referendum on MMP whether or not it should remain as our electoral system of choice.
In the meantime, we hope that Chris Carter reads the letter in the Dom-Post. We cannot help but wonder if the voters of Te Atatu are getting the representation that they deserve.