Apparently UnitedFuture is no longer a party recognised for parliamentary purposes because doing so would cause too much trouble.
Let's begin with a confession. Last week I wrote a post in which I confidently stated:
For what it is worth, I predict David Carter will maintain his "grace period" ruling for the time being ... allowing UnitedFuture the opportunity to (properly) reapply for registration and the Commission time to consider that application. The Commission's decision isn't that UnitedFuture can't be registered - it's just that the application to do so wasn't in the required form.
Blinded by my confidence, I neglected to remember that I don't really know very much about anything. And so, as surely as night follows day, the Speaker of the House, David Carter, has today announced that he's revisited his "grace period" decision and concluded that UnitedFuture is no longer a party recognised for parliamentary purposes.
So ... yes. Very embarrassing. However, my blushes are ameliorated by two facts.
First of all, David Carter has (finally) decided that the relevant Standing Order ought to be interpreted in the way that I argued in this post. Which means he thinks that I was right, and that what Graeme Edgeler argued here was wrong. This sort of petty point scoring over other bloggers on politico-legal matters gives me a sense of enormous wellbeing because I am a sad individual without much else going for him.
Second, David Carter's approach to this issue displays very little in the way of coherent principle. As both Graeme and I argued in our respective posts, Standing Orders dictated that UnitedFuture's deregistration means either it can no longer be recognised for parliamentary purposes (my claim) or nothing at all in terms of recognition for parliamentary purposes (Graeme's claim). What they can't be interpreted as allowing is an undefined, subjective "grace period" in which the Speaker lets a party stay recognised until it can get itself registered again.
Further, having decided that this is what Standing Orders somehow allowed, David Carter now says that the trouble UnitedFuture is having with its registration means this grace period will be exceeded; in that "the time it would take for UnitedFuture's re-registration to be resolved had the potential to disrupt the business of the House." Exactly what this means is unclear to me, except perhaps that if he let UnitedFuture keep its money and other benefits, Trevor Mallard and Winston Peters would make his life a living hell for the next few months. Which is, in all probability, true. But if it is now the basis for deciding how the House is going to be run, then predicting the future is a mug's game.
But all of this is now history. What it means is that, looking forward, I can now confidently predict that the privileges complaint lodged against Peter Dunne by David Shearer will not be referred to the Privileges Committee by the Speaker. Having freed himself of a perception that he's twisting Standing Orders to protect Dunne, David Carter is free to determine that any misleading answer that Dunne may have given to Winston Peters could not mislead the House, as the questions asked were not relevant to the House's business.
There we go. What possibly could go wrong now?