New Zealand First has agreed to vote in Parliament on behalf of former National MP Jami-Lee Ross while he is on medical leave.
The party has announced that on November 3 it received a letter from Ross, asking it to hold his proxy vote further to the National Party refusing to do so.
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters says: "The New Zealand First caucus strongly believes that in terms of the Electoral Integrity Amendment Act, that someone in Mr Ross’ position should resign his seat and test his mandate with the electors of Botany and we urge him to do so.
"That said, after careful deliberation New Zealand First is able to confirm that it has accepted Mr Ross’ request.
"The party wishes to make clear that its decision to accept Mr Ross’ proxy, until such time as he revokes it, is done solely on the grounds that the electors of Botany gave a clear expression of their will at the 2017 General Election when they elected him with a significant majority.
"It is on that basis, and that basis alone, that the New Zealand First Whip will use Mr Ross’ proxy - to be exercised at all times in support of the vote of the National Party - as a temporary delegate for the electors of Botany.
"New Zealand First does this to ensure that all New Zealand voters continue to receive representation in parliament."
The move by New Zealand First makes it more difficult for National to use the waka-jumping legislation to boot Ross out of Parliament, should it choose to do so. This is because by having his vote casted, Ross is avoiding distorting the proportionality of parliament.
Ross has tweeted:
While I remain on leave on medical advice, it is important my constituents in the Botany Electorate continue to have a vote cast on their behalf in Parliament. I appreciate NZ First supporting Botany by accepting my request to cast a proxy vote. pic.twitter.com/712dZQjMTY— Jami-Lee Ross (@jamileeross) November 7, 2018