Friday, August 22, 2008

The NZ Herald needs to write the facts on MMP

Today's Herald editorial discusses the diversity on National's list and tries to provide some educated comment on MMP. It did a pretty woeful job as it is riddled with errors. Such as:

* MMP's list system was supposed to improve the representation of women, Maori and immigrants but has not really done so.

* Women's numbers in Parliament have risen largely thanks to Labour Party selection policies that were in train before MMP and would have continued without it.

* Maori numbers have risen partly on Labour's list selections and partly on enrolment for Maori electorates, which are not a product of MMP.

Let's start with the Maori MPs. The number of Maori MP's are certainly a product of MMP as had we not had proportional representation we would not have had the Maori Electoral Option. This option, held every five years tags the number of Maori seats to the Maori electorate, wheras before MMP there were only four seats. So MMP was the catalyst that increased the number of Maori seats. And given that the list system has increased the number of Maori MPs to 21, it has certainly improved the representation of Maori.

In terms of women in Parliament, more than half the women ever elected to parliament since the 1890s were elected since 1996, when we adopted MMP- and many were off the list, such as as the Green MPs, Judy Turner, Maryan Street, Barbara Stewart, Alemain Kopu, Heather Roy, Donna Awatere-Huata and Margaret Wilson to name just a few. Yet the Herald has said MMP has not increased participation of women. Yet how else would MPs such as Margaret Wilson and Maryan Street have got into Parliament? Weren't they list only candidates like the hapless Georgina Beyer in her last term?

I could continue expanding on the errors but No Right Turn has done it for me.

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