Pressure mounting on Brendan Horan

By Kiri Gillespie of the Bay of Plenty Times -
Brendan Horan. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Brendan Horan. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Former New Zealand First representative Brendan Horan is defending his role as an independent MP following pressure from political heavyweights that he be thrown out of Parliament.

Mr Horan was expelled from the NZ First party in December amid allegations of money missing from his dead mother's estate but has since stayed on in the Beehive as an independent MP.

This week Prime Minister John Key said he would support a move to empower party leaders to kick rogue list MPs, such as Mr Horan, out of Parliament.

Yesterday, voters of bayofplentytimes.co.nz agreed.

An online poll of 162 people showed 91 per cent of respondents would support a rule change allowing the removal of list MPs from Parliament.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said Mr Key's views around "waka jumping" were clear. "There is potentially the need for legislation regarding 'waka-jumping,' but it's a very complex area and not a priority for the Government," she said.

Earlier this week, Mr Key was reported saying he supported moves to empower the removal of list MPs like Mr Horan and disgraced former National representative Aaron Gilmore from Parliament.

But Mr Horan said he deserved the job because he worked "an easy 72 hours" a week for his people.

"Work never stops. People just have no idea how much an MP works," Mr Horan said.

He said he spent three weeks out of four in Parliament and the remaining week between his Rata St office and other locations in New Zealand working.

Attendance information was collected by the whip of each party and single party members must apply for permission to be absent. These figures were not public.

Mr Horan said the MMP policy that allowed MPs to stay on in Parliament regardless of their leader's support, or lack of, was fundamental in a democracy and removal of it would have a "chilling impact on democracy".

"It would place all power in the hands of a few men and women. Imagine if an MP knew if they could be kicked out tomorrow if they didn't agree with the party leader."

Mr Horan said it was the role of MPs to vigorously debate issues but this would be stymied if the policy that protected them was removed.

"It's a real threat to democracy. You wouldn't get anything through the democratic process," he said.

TV3 reported last night that Labour leader David Shearer said the current system allowing rogue list MPs to stay brought Parliament into disrepute.

NZ First leader and former Tauranga MP Winston Peters said people voted for a party, "not for someone who thinks they can behave any way they like".

Neither party leader could be contacted last night.

There are 51 list MPs in Parliament.

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