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Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Winston saga should not lead to calls for a review of MMP. Other things may, though


I get a bit tired of all these rabblerousers who, when there's a problem with honesty, commitment and integrity in Parliament such as the current saga over Winston Peters, or the defection of Gordon Copeland from UnitedFuture but remaining in Parliament, are quick to point the finger at MMP and call for a referendum on our electoral system.

Chapman Tripp partner Andy Nicholls is not one of them. However Nicholls indicates that the Peters' saga shows that it is time for a review of MMP. I disagree. Nicholls, himself states that MMP creates hostage situations.

That's rubbish. Perhaps rules within MMP could potentially lead to such situations. But current problems with Peters, and Helen Clark's inept response is not because of an electoral system, its more because Members of Parliament put their own power tripping interests before honesty and integrity, thus creating their own problems.

MMP, like any electoral system and the MPs within it , is not perfect. Critics point to things such as the five percent thresshold, the Maori Party hangover, Copeland's UNited Future defection, Green Party list leapfrogging to get Russel Norman in Parliament and MPs like Rick Barker being voted out and making it back in on party lists - and even to Cabinet.They even point to the Maori seats, but don't discuss the Maori Electoral option which potentially increases the seat numbers. state that the numbers of them Maori seats could also be amended under an MMP system which can also be amended

All of which can be removed under an MMP system and all of which have nothing to do with Winston Peters' behaviour - except MMP is the reason that he is in Parliament. Yet if we had an MMP system where a party had to get at least one electorate seat to qualify for list seats, we would have had MMP without Winston Peters - or the Greens for that matter.

Calling for a referendum on the electoral system is cop out, retaining it with amendments to the threshold and qualifications for list seats is preferable. But even if Winston Peters was elected to Parliament under a MMP system whereby a party has to get one electorate seat to qualify for list seats, the current problems would remain.

So don't blame Winston Peters' nutcase antics on the electoral system, because his antics don't even indicate that it is time for a review of our electoral system, less so a referendum. There are other factors that come to play which are more relevant.

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Scoopit!

5 Comments:

Blogger Chuck said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 1, 2008 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Dave, can you explain why people such as yourself and Andy, who are no doubt more informed and more intelligent than the average person oppose referenda which determine legislation yet appear to be happy with 12 people some of whom on many occasions be of lower than average intelligence decide on the fate of someone accused of a crime?

MPs cannot be trusted to pass good legislation even when there is not a conflict of interest. The passing of the anti-smacking bill and also lowering the drinking age are two examples of MPs going against the vast majority of the public.

I am not one of those who argue for referenda of every issue. I would like compare government to a listed company. I have shares in a number companies here and overseas. A number of them are property companies. These companies after the crash of the 80s implemented rules that limited the percentage of borrowing allowed. To change this they have to go back to the share holders to change this. We elect directors like MPs to run the company but there are certain issues they should come back to the shareholders for approval.

MMP like FPP have pluses and minuses. What makes you and Andy think that MPs who are happy to behave like children are more capable than the general public of making important decisions?

August 1, 2008 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

You comment has nothing do do with electoral systems but I have to say I don't oppose referenda. At all.

What the public and parliament think of - and vote for -an issue may be different, but it is the public that democratically put these parties in Parliament in the first place. Given that we've done that democracy means that they vote for laws.

Democracy also means that of you don't like the laws they can be fixed laws or citizens and initiate referenda.

Finally, a review of MMP wont be done by MPs. MP's don't conduct reviews, their officials and Govt depts do. MPs pass laws.

August 1, 2008 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

"Democracy also means that of you don't like the laws they can be fixed laws or citizens and initiate referenda."

Yes, but political parties can ignore the results.

The problem with a review without a referendum is that what guarantee that the review will be truly independent?

August 1, 2008 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Democracy is about choice, not just result. Sure, I'd prefer that CIR were binding in most cases, but at least in our democracy citizens can choose to initiate referenda.

Even if we have a referenda after a review, and even if that referenda was binding, that still would not change whether the review was "independant" or not.

The success of a review is dependant on the terms of reference for that review - not just who conducts the review or what checks and balances that review has.

Still, a MMP review is better than a referendum on MMP. Even a bill amending MMP is better than a referendum, say between MMP and FPP. But that bill will require 75% to pass, whereas a referendum could be ignored - or lead to the aforesaid bill, thus bypassing the referendum and saving millions that can be used for hip operations instead.

That's why a review is better than both.

August 1, 2008 at 2:26 PM  

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