Nats plan MMP referendum

01:43, Jan 31 2009

The National Party will hold a referendum on whether to scrap the MMP electoral system if the party forms a government, leader John Key said today. 

Key said if voters decided to ditch MMP, a second referendum would have to be held to decide which system should replace it.

That meant any change was unlikely until the 2014 election or "possibly later".

Key said he believed voters would reject MMP.

"I think the country may well vote MMP out but I think they will vote in another proportional system," he told reporters.

"I don't think they'll go back to first past the post."


But after 12 years of MMP it was important to give voters a choice, he said.

"I do think voters thought they were going to get an opportunity to kick they tyres and we're giving them that opportunity."

Key also outlined 9 other election pledges in his speech to his party's annual conference.

They are to:

1. deliver an ongoing programme of tax cuts;

2. take a more disciplined approach to government spending;

3. cap the number of bureaucrats;

4. crackdown on gangs and the methamphetamine trade;

5. reform the Resource Management Act in its first 100 days of government;

6. open some government services up to private sector management;

7. set national literacy and numeracy standards for primary school children;

8. retain all existing superannuation entitlements and grow them through tax cuts, with Mr Key promising to resign if the pledge is not kept;

9. repeal the Electoral Finance Act but retain provisions which provide for greater transparency in political donations;

Earlier today, National announced it would boost capital spending by up to $500 million a year and increase borrowing to fund new infrastructure.

The increase would be on top of the previously announced $1.5 billion for faster broadband.

That would see extra capital investment of almost $5 billion over six years, funded at least in part by allowing Government debt levels to rise.

The party would also introduce a new category of highway "Roads of National Significance", including State Highway 1, which would get priority treatment.

Consents for major national infrastructure projects would be streamlined through a call-in process that would require decisions within nine months.

In his keynote speech to the party annual conference in Wellington Key said the changes would see the debt ratio rise at most by two percentage points higher than Labour was planning. Labour aims to keep gross debt at about 20 per cent of gross domestic product.

National would also introduce infrastructure bonds and make greater use of public-private partnerships to fund projects as part of a 20-year infrastructure plan.

A minister of infrastructure would be appointed to shape and oversee the plans.

"National believes building better infrastructure is essential to fuelling higher levels of non-inflationary economic growth for years to come," Key said.

But Prime Minister Helen Clark today said National's borrowing plan was "reckless" and "Muldoonist". She accused Key of "gambling with the future".  

- NZPA and Dominion Post