“ACT has stood as the only party in favour of parliamentary democracy after all other parties supported the introduction of a new so called ‘Independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Conduct,’” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“The new commissioner will have the power to investigate MPs and publish reports on them that could seriously damage if not end their career. No unelected official should have such power over the people’s elected representatives in a democracy.
“When I retire from Parliament, I want to be able to elect a representative to go to Parliament and speak for me without fear. Having an unelected class of guardians who stand over them undermines my right as a voter.
“The assumption of the new commissioner is that politicians are a terrible bunch, and some higher power should be installed the control them. The problem is that politicians are elected by the people. Putting an unelected official above the people’s representative undermines the people’s power, or demos kratos, in English, democracy.
“The Speaker will no doubt say that the first person appointed to the role is a good person. What he means is, this person is more trustworthy than anyone you elect and can watch over them. The idea that the people’s elected representatives need to be controlled is an idea we normally associate with dictatorships.
“Of course, it is important to fix the culture in Parliament, but that is already happening. Many MPs in recent years have left Parliament in a cloud of negative publicity relating to their conduct with staff, Maggie Barry, Nick Smith, and Iain Lees-Galloway come to mind. It did not require an unelected official with the discretion to investigate or not investigate, decide for or against, publish or not publish, to tip the scales against them.
“The greatest irony of all is that this law is being introduced by Trevor Mallard after he has announced he will step down as Speaker. One of the MPs with the worst conduct of all, from fighting to bullying to losing foolish legal tangles at the taxpayers’ expense is leaving a parting gift of eroding our democratic traditions."