Mike Hosking: Sustainable NZ scandal shows MMP's flaws

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 25 Feb 2020, 2:59PM
Vernon Tava's party seems to stumbled out of the gate. (Photo / Supplied)

Mike Hosking: Sustainable NZ scandal shows MMP's flaws

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 25 Feb 2020, 2:59PM

The Vernon Tava-Sustainable NZ scandal doesn’t seem to be much of a scandal at all.

And is that because we have, sadly, bigger, more scandalous fish to fry, and as a result, we have become somewhat immune? Immune to what would be, in less tumultuous times, a much bigger headline.

It also, sadly, reveals in a cold stark light, just how pathetic the chances of small party emergence is in an MMP system, but more on that shortly.

Given the Serious Fraud Office has laid a bunch of charges over National Party donations and an MP in the form of Jami-Lee Ross is heading to court, do these allegations seem a bit tragic?

Given the SFO is currently investigating the New Zealand First foundation and its links to the New Zealand First party and its leader Winston Peters, do poor old Vernon's alleged numbers problems seem a bit small fry?

Because surely if what the former party secretary says is true, then Vernon is a cad. She alleges she discovered they were short on numbers and cash when it comes to being a legit party. You need 500 names, signatures and deposits, they didn’t have them.

Vernon, according to the former party operative, wanted to simply go to the bank and get a bit of cash to make up the difference. And rig a few lists and dates to make it look like everything was kosher. She refused, quit and went to the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission seems to have done nothing. Which either means Vernon is in the clear, or they were right about the Electoral Commission when the NZ First Foundation mess first reared its head. They have no power and are basically useless.

Anyway, the concern surely is the fact if you were thinking of voting for Vernon and his band of merry sustainability-ists - do you still want to? Doesn’t the alleged behaviour make you wonder how legit is this bloke?

And then, the tragedy of the actual circumstance, the cold hard reality, is he doesn’t seem to have been able to drum up even 500 people to join a party, far less start a movement that is going anywhere.

When we last had him on the programme, it was the day he alleged he'd got to 500 and was officially launching. I asked him how many he had, and to my surprise he hadn't even passed the threshold, but was hoping by the end of the day to have done so. It sounded hopeless. And if reports from the former secretary are correct, it clearly was.

And that’s MMP, isn't it? Despite all the noise about minor players, voices, ideas and movements being heard and prospering, it's simply not true. We are left with the Greens (barely making five per cent right now), New Zealand First (under investigation and on a three) and Act (held alive by a deal).

Almost 90 per cent support is for the two old players we were seemingly so keen to strip of power back in the 90s when this tantalising MMP thing was dangled in front of us.

The latest dabble in expansion, a blue/green sustainability party, seemingly dead before it even gets to a vote.