Wednesday, March 30, 2005

MMP Matures

In a piece of Parliamentary theatre today, Peter Dunne presented the PM with a plum patsy question, asking her to comment on the fact that today marks the longest period of continuous stable government in NZ under MMP.

Now while you would have to say that this is not the most significant anniversary on our national calendar, it is worth commenting on.

What I think is noteworthy about the operation of government under the Labour/United Future Confidence and Supply Agreement is not simply the fact that it has provided stability over several years, but that within this framework, there has been considerable scope for the Parties to differ on matters of political principle.

Wheras our first two MMP governments where characterised by coalition agreements which bound two parties together, and ultimately inhibited the independence of the smaller parties concerned (NZF and the Alliance) to their detriment, the current arrangement has given United Future the ability to quite regularly assert it's independence by disagreeing with Labour. They have also supported key government measures such as Working for Families.

Of course, the arrangement has worked only because Labour has other allies in the House to work with when UF doesn't support government legislation. To me, it is that political willingness to pragmatically work with others that marks this administration out as our first mature MMP government.

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