Shambles needs Royal Commission

03/11/2008

Dunedin author and electoral commentator, Philip Temple, says our parliamentary system is a shambles but he doesn’t think a referendum on MMP is the answer.

What we need is not an ill-defined, ad hoc referendum but a new Royal Commission on the Electoral System, a generation after the last, to enable a considered examination of all aspects of the voting system, the electoral cycle, electoral financing, the Maori seats etc . . . so that all sectors of the community can have input and influence in bringing about much-needed reform.

He supports MMP and I don’t but I agree with him about the need for a Royal Commission.

We would be far better served by the measured and detailed consideration commissioners would bring to the many issues which need to be addressed in our electoral system than by the blunt instrument of a referendum.

Once the commission had concluded its deliberations a referendum could be held on its recommendations, but it shouldn’t be the starting point.


Maori Party not Maori Seats give Maori Voice

04/07/2008

Tariana Turia  said on Agenda that Maori have only had a dedicated Maori voice since the Maori Party has been in parliament.

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

In other words it’s not the Maori seats which give Maori people a voice it’s the Maori Party.

Hold that thought for a moment and consider what might happen if a future government decided that the rural people weren’t being represented adequately and created special rural seats.  A Country Party then forms and takes all the seats but gets only a small percentage of the party vote which creates a two or three seat overhang and gives them the balance of power. When urban people complain and want the seats removed, the country people say that would be for them to decide.

Would that be fair or right? No and for the same reasons it is neither fair nor right to have Maori seats nor to leave the decision on their existance up to Maori.

 It has nothing to do with race, the Treaty, or rights of indigenous people, it’s about democracy in which one group of people should not have the right to make a decision on something which affects everyone.

The Maori seats impact on us all in two ways: the potential for overhang distorts the proportionality of parliament which is one of the merits of MMP; and if Maori seats were disbanded there could be more general seats so electorates would be smaller and and more manageable for MPs and their constituents.

The Royal Commission which drew up recommendations for MMP said there would be no need for Maori seats and that has been confirmed by the Maori Party leader’s own words – it’s not the seats but the party  which gives a dedicated Maori voice.

P.S. Muriel Newman disccuses Maori seats here and refers to a paper by  David Round which is here.


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