There were angry scenes in the House this afternoon when Speaker David Carter ruled Peter Dunne’s United Future party would continue to be recognised as a party in Parliament while he sorted out its registration with the Electoral Commission.
MPs walked out and Labour threatened to refuse to ask questions with one senior MP saying he believed Parliament had become a farce.
The incident began when Carter said he had a response from Dunne concerning his party’s deregistration saying he expected to be in a position to reregister early next week and the Electoral Commission would take six to eight weeks to check it was in order.
Considering the serious repercussions for a party not being recognised by Parliament, Carter said he would await that process.
Carter said the Standing Order had been rewritten to cover the circumstance of a new party and not the current circumstance of a party being deregistered due to a lack of membership.
Labour Shadow Leader of the House Trevor Mallard said the decision was wrong and Dunne should be considered as an independent MP as Dunne’s party was no longer registered. As a result Dunne should lose the funding and other privileges that came with being a party leader. This he believed should take effect immediately.
Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said the ruling was correct as the United Future party had been recognised at the time of Dunne’s election as an MP.
Other opposition MPs supported Mallard’s position with some angry points of order, Carter said the position was unprecedented and he had decided to give Dunne some time to sort it out.
Mallard reacted angrily, said Parliament was a farce and Labour would not be asking questions. He refused to apologise and left the chamber.
NZ First MPs then walked out saying they would boycott Parliament until they saw a legal argument backing the Speaker’s decision.
Green Leader Russel Norman asked what advice he had received and whether Carter would release it. Carter said he received considerable advice but would not release it.
There were numerous angry points of order, with Carter threatening to throw MPs out if they relitigated his ruling.
Question Time began with Labour asking questions, but tempers were very flared.
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