Nats neutral as Banks hits out at MMP proposals
DANYA LEVY AND KATE CHAPMAN
The Electoral Commission's proposed changes to MMP:
Deputy prime minister Bill English refuses to be drawn on the Government's response to the MMP review, after ACT leader John Banks claimed National would toss out the recommendations.
The Electoral Commission recommended scrapping the ability of parties that win an electorate to bring in other MPs according to a percentage of their vote, and also proposed lowering the threshold for winning seats in Parliament from 5 per cent to 4 per cent.
Banks, who won Epsom in a deal with National, said the recommendations were woeful and National would not support them "for obvious reasons".
English said today National had "not taken a view" on the proposals yet and had not discussed the review with ACT.
"He's bound to have a strong opinion ...but we haven't considered these in detail and haven't discussed them with John [Banks]."
The Government is under pressure to back the non-binding proposals which were announced yesterday and follow the first review of MMP in 16 years.
Banks this morning questioned why National would support the changes: "Give me one good reason why they would?"
The coat-tailing provision had provided the National-led Government with "stable and reliable" support from ACT and UnitedFuture over the past two Parliamentary terms, he said.
Banks said National had no reason to "gas" its chances to have small party support for a third term in 2014.
ACT had been written off by commentators before and Banks would not be drawn on whether the proposed changes spelt the end of his party and United Future.
UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne says it was premature to predict how the Government would respond to the proposals; the Commission was seeking public feedback before final recommendations went to Justice Minister Judith Collins in October.
UnitedFuture wants the threshold lowered further to 3 per cent and the coat-tailing provision retained. Dunne brought two MPs with him into Parliament in 2005 after winning the seat of Ohariu, despite the party not reaching the 5 per cent threshold.
Dunne conceded some voters were unhappy with the deals done over electorates because of the coat-tailing provision.
"I don't think people are stupid and if they felt they were being manipulated or abused, they would exact their revenge on those they felt responsible."
English yesterday said the Government would "carefully consider" the proposals.
National has previously said it wants the threshold to remain at 5 per cent and the one electorate seat threshold to be retained.
If adopted by the Government, the changes could be in place for the 2014 election.
Labour and the Greens have supported the changes, although the Greens want the threshold lowered further.
NZ First leader Winston Peters is opposing the moves, saying they are anti-democratic.
The Conservative Party, which gained 2.65 per cent in last year's election, has welcomed the changes.
The review of the electoral system followed a referendum held during last year's election which found 56 per cent of voters wanted to keep MMP and 41 per cent wanted it changed.
* The one electorate seat threshold for allocating list seats should be abolished.
* The party vote threshold for allocating list seats should be lowered to 4 per cent.
* Candidates should continue to be able to stand both in an electorate and on a party list at general elections.
* List MPs should continue to be able to contest by-elections.
* Political parties should continue to have responsibility for the composition and ranking of candidates on their party lists.
* The provision for overhang seats should be abolished for parties that do not cross the party vote threshold.
* Parliament should review the gradual erosion of list seats relative to electorate seats as it risks undermining the diversity and representation of Parliament.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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