National would be hypocrites to expel Jami-Lee Ross from Parliament - Bryce Edwards

  • 20/10/2018

The National Party may not be rid of rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross just yet.

After being expelled by his party, Mr Ross has announced he'll be staying on as an independent MP - rather than quitting and contesting a by-election most think he'll lose.

Political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University says the National Party will be feeling deflated by the news.

"To have him essentially renege on that means they have that thorn in their side in Parliament every day, until they manage to get rid of him through other means."

Dr Edwards says under Parliamentary privilege, Mr Ross will be able to say whatever he likes.

"He's able to say all sorts of things - whether they are defamatory or legally unwise - and he can get away with it."

Dr Edwards says National may have to use the waka-jumping Bill they strongly opposed, which would allow them to expel him from Parliament altogether. The problem is, National has called the legislation "undemocratic" and vowed to overturn it.

"They spoke about the dangers of that Bill and how much they are opposed to it, and if they use this Bill to try and get Jami-Lee Ross expelled from Parliament, that could look quite hypocritical," said Dr Edwards.

National leader Simon Bridges called the legislation the "Winston Peters Self-Preservation Bill", and said it would damage "New Zealand's international reputation, with international watchers confirming it would likely affect our reputation as one of the world's most transparent and democratic countries".

The waka-jumping legislation, formally known as the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill, became law on October 3. Electorate MPs like Jami-Lee Ross booted out of their party can also be forced to give up their seat, triggering a by-election. List MPs are just replaced by the next on the party list.

It's opposed by the Greens, but they voted for it as a part of their confidence and supply agreement with New Zealand First and Labour, both of which support it.

Mr Bridges hasn't ruled out using the Bill to get rid of MPs, but has said it would be "incredibly unlikely".