MMP referendum, submit now

The Electoral Legislation Committee has called for submissions on the Electoral Referendum Bill. You can make an online submission or a written submission (enclose two copies), by Thursday, 10 June 2010, to

Electoral Legislation Committee
Parliament Buildings

The Bill sets out the nuts and bolts for next year’s Referendum on MMP. The format of the ballot paper follows the 1992 Referendum: Part A, do you wish to retain MMP or not; and Part B, irrespective of how you voted in Part A, which alternative voting system would you prefer.

The choice for alternatives to MMP is from First Past the Post (the United Kingdom system – they are in the middle of an election campaign), Preferential Vote (the Aussie system for their House of Representatives) and Supplementary member (try Hungry for a current example – they’ve just held an election). These are all non-proportional systems.  The fourth option is the largely proportional Single Transferable Vote (STV, try Ireland for an example of how it works).

The Referendum will run concurrently with the next General Election, and if there is a need for a run-off between MMP and one of the four systems a further Referendum will be held at 2014 General Election. This is a sound timetable, giving adequate time for public information and public consultation.

The Bill states that a review of MMP must take place (under the auspices of the Electoral Commission) if people vote to retain MMP. It is important that people are aware of this option and the opportunity to improve on the current MMP system.

The review will look at thresholds (currently a party needs 5% of the popular vote or one electorate to get into Parliament), overhang (currently we have 2 extra seats in Parliament as the Maori Party has more electorate MPs than their percentage of the popular vote entitles them to) and issues like candidates standing both in an electorate and on the party list.

The merit of MMP is the ability to tweak. The German MMP was tweaked when the electorate seat threshold was changed from one to three seats.

The controversial aspect of the Bill is lack of a cap on advertising regime. There is no requirement for large advertisers to disclose how much they are spending. The rationale for this lack is to foster a robust debate – this is pretty weak.

There should be fairness for participants in the debate on MMP. The present lack of spending limits undermines the democratic process. It gives undue influence to those with lots of money. Rational debate should not be overwhelmed by lobby groups able to spend millions on television, radio and newspaper advertising. Remember the 2005 Exclusive Brethren campaign to discredit the Green Party, or the initial fight to get MMP when big business interests spent huge sums of money on full page newspaper and endless television advertisements.

MMP is the fairest electoral system. It allows everyone’s vote to count wherever we live and irrespective of what political party we support. It would be a tragedy to go back to the days where only a few people in marginal electorates decided elections and we get the Government we don’t deserve.

9 Comments Posted

  1. stephensmikm

    it’s better that companies can spend lots then Political Parties taking tax payer dollars – that isn’t what we pay them for!

    I don’t pay a company to tell me how my life is to be lived, how my country is to be run, make laws or to influence public policy. I pay them for a product… if I need it and if it is a good product.

    I pay politicians to make laws and public policy. That’s my taxes.

    I pay for the structural organization of the government, the implementation of the system itself. That is also my taxes.

    I pay a political party (through donation and if it is structurally supported by the system, through taxes), to represent my views on laws and public policy… and changes in the structure.

    There is a complex relationship that you are missing entirely. Money makes it all happen and if you allow policy to be influenced by moneyed interests you have fncked your chances of having and keeping a democratic system.

    Allowing big money to influence policy and governance is … (many reserved words deleted here).


  2. @A1kmm

    that’s not the stuff At issue, it’s things such as the no gst bus that was paid for in full by tax payers, political advertisements paid for by taxpayers – if a party cannot get enough funds on it’s own then does it really have support and do people really believe in it?

  3. I didn’t note any concerns from the Green Party speakers about the lack of spending limits or disclosure for the referendums in the Head of State Referenda Bill … what’s changed since last week?

    And obviously didn’t note my answer last week either:

    “That’s a straw man, Edge. First, in no way would the outcome of the head of state bill affect our democracy in the way that the MMP referendum bill would. There are just not the same sort of vested interests involved. Second, I very much doubt any Green would argue against the inclusion of spending caps even so.”

    So nothing has changed since last week, neither the Greens position supporting spending limits, nor it seems your desire to make an issue out of nothing.

  4. stephensmikm: Political parties aren’t paid from our taxes to campaign. MPs are paid to discuss particular policies and announce them to the public. Political parties are paid to campaign by their members and supporters.

    The problem is that we supposedly to live in a democracy, where everyone has equal say on how the country is governed, and not a plutocracy where it is one dollar, one vote. We live in a very unequal society, and if those with the most are the only ones who can talk to the public, they tend to seek policies which increase inequality.

  5. it’s better that companies can spend lots then Political Parties taking tax payer dollars – that isn’t what we pay them for!

  6. Edge, I don’t think anything has changed. I think Keith Locke probably just forgot to put spending limits in his Bill. The Greens have consistently supported spending limits in all their public statements on electoral matters over many years, so I can’t see why they would have any different position on one referendum to another.

    Sloppy, maybe. But certainly not mischievous.

  7. I didn’t any any concerns from the Green Party speakers about the lack of spending limits or disclosure for the referendums in the Head of State Referenda Bill … what’s changed since last week?

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