Stricter rules on when and how National Party MPs can roll a leader, and a focus on better Māori representation are two of the recommendations party members will ponder at next month’s regional conferences.
ANALYSIS: There’s a great Kiwi tradition of calling a leadership spill.
Both Labour and National have had their fill of them, but now a Governance and Structure review is calling for a tightening around National MPs to ensure a “fair process” and “acceptable result” in place of what can often be a messy coup.
The review was publicly released on Wednesday and the recommendations will be debated and a straw poll will be held on each at the regional conferences in May.
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The rule committee will then make any changes and present the proposals to the National Party Board, which will meet at a special meeting on June 26.
The recommendations are broken down into a number of areas and pose a primary question, and in some cases supplementary questions, for party members to consider and vote on.
One of the most contentious debates will be whether leadership bids should be greater managed by the board, following a series of leaders in quick succession in the lead-up to the election campaign last year.
In May, Todd Muller challenged Simon Bridges’ leadership and won, only to resign himself 53 days later.
Judith Collins then took over the leadership in the run-up to the election, which delivered the party’s second-worst result in history.
Former leader Jim McLay carried out the governance and structure review that’s prompted some of the more difficult decisions for the party.
It proposes governance changes including having appointed board members to supplement elected members to address skill and experience gaps and increase diversity.
An additional question to party members will be whether there should be specific seats set aside, for example, for a Māori director on the board.
Given the National Party caucus’ criticism of Māori wards on local councils, it will test whether party members feel the same about seats based on ethnicity.
It also comes on the back of Collins disregarding a health system that puts Māori needs ahead of others through the creation of a Māori Health Authority, as announced by the Government.
The regional conferences will also discuss whether board terms should be increased from two to three years and whether there should be a maximum term for board members.
The current National Party president, Peter Goodfellow, has been in the job since 2009.
Other recommendations include re-writing the rules around candidate selections to make the “pre-selection requirements crystal clear’’.
After two first-term MPs, Hamish Walker and Andrew Falloon, fell from grace and were forced to leave the party there will be a desire to tighten up the rules around reference checking and vetting, which has also been recommended as part of the review.
In the aftermath of any election the National Party does an autopsy, which was also released publicly on Wednesday alongside McLay’s recommendations.
That review looked at priority areas for the party to consider making changes, which will also be discussed at the regional conferences, starting with the first one in Auckland on Saturday.
The review panel “delved into the party’s reputation, capability and position within Māori, finding there is work to be done to lift in this space’’.
The key recommendations are that the Treaty of Waitangi be embedded into the party’s constitution, Te Ao Māori capabilities be brought onto the board and Māori strategy and engagement be developed.
In February Collins announced the party would consider running candidates in the Māori seats at the 2023 election.
That was cited in the review as one way to improve engagement.
Diversity is also a focus and how to rebuild a more “diverse and representative caucus’’.
In addition to that the review suggests better utilising the party’s list ranking to ensure more diverse candidates and MPs are put forward.
Collins has previously indicated that calling out “bad behaviour’’ within the caucus was vital as the party rebuilds itself.
That was included as a recommendation in the review along with succession planning, and the party leader process being “hard-coded into the constitution’’.
The regional conferences wrap up in Tauranga on May 23.