Electoral Commission MMP report tabled

Last updated 14:40 05/11/2012
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Fairfax NZ
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Opposition parties say the government should adopt all the Electoral Commission's recommendations for MMP reform.

Labour leader David Shearer said it was "well and truly time to ditch the so-called 'coat-tails clause' to avoid stitch-ups like the deal done over the tea cups by John Key and John Banks last election".

The clause wasn't actually used because ACT did not get enough party votes to bring another MP into parliament, however, the party benefited from the clause in 2008.

Shearer said Labour was keen to see the government move quickly on the recommendations.

The comments came after the government today tabled the commission’s final report in parliament.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the government would take time to consider the report.

She thanked the public for participating in the review which received thousands of submissions.

"The government will now carefully consider the commission's recommendations and will be consulting with other parties in parliament for their views."

MMP opponents have expressed disappointment at the final report.

ACT Party leader John Banks said the one seat threshold was well understood by voters and and changes to the party vote threshold were "arbitrary".

"The Commission's assertion that this [one seat rule] is somehow unfair is nonsense.  Each voter in every electorate has a vote of equal value.  How they decide to use that vote is up to them, based on the pitch put to them by various political parties."

ACT would not support the changes, he said.

"Voters will not have any confidence in the Electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with it."

Lawyer, and anti-MMP campaigner Jordan Williams said New Zealanders had been conned.

"The public voted to keep MMP with an expectation that the review would result in improvements and a more stable electoral system. Instead, these recommendations would make the features of MMP even worse," he said.

A 4 per cent party vote threshold was a recipe for "instability and unpredictability".

However, the commission said the threshold could be lowered from 5 to 4 per cent without any risk to effectiveness or stability.

"It could arguably be lowered to 3 per cent, on the basis of previous MMP results, without significant risk."

And the one seat threshold should go because it was not necessary, the commission said,

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"Its effect has been to undermine the principles of fairness and equity and the primacy of the party vote in determining the overall composition of Parliament that underpin MMP ."

That was because it gave voters in some electorates more power than those in others, the report said.

"It causes excessive focus to be placed on a few electorates and distorts election campaigning."

COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

* Abolishing the rule that allows MPs to bring in other members after winning one electorate seat.

* Lowering the party vote threshold from five to four per cent.

* That there be a statutory requirement for the commission to review four per cent threshold after three elections.

* Abolishing the overhang provision.

* The ratio of electorate seats be fixed at 60:40.

* Political parties continue to have responsibility for the selection and ranking party lists.

* List MPs should be able to contest by-elections.

* Candidates should be able to stand on the list and in an electorate.

* Political parties should have to give a statutory declaration that they have complied with their rules in selecting and ranking their list candidates.

GREEN VIEW

Green MP Holly Walker said this was not about the next election but the next 10 elections.

"It's vital that the National government does not allow the immediate political interests of any single party get in the way of changes that strengthen our electoral system in the long term."

In it report the commission said relatively few changes were needed to the electoral system.

"But those we recommend are important. They would enhance public confidence in the fairness and operation of our MMP voting system and parliamentary democracy."

- Stuff

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