Written By: - Date published: 6:33 pm, May 14th, 2013 - 68 comments
Categories: accountability, democracy under attack, electoral commission, greens, john key, Judith Collins, Metiria Turei, MMP, national/act government, referendum - Tags: holly walker
Today Green MP Holly Walker dragged out of Judith Collins that the NAct government will not be implementing the recommendations of the Electoral Commission on MMP. Then Collins goes on to defend her position with reference to the lack of “consensus”, clearly associating this with the need for “unanimous” agreement on the changes by all political parties.
The Greens may be hair splitting when they say Collins is confusing 2 different terms. However, they nail it when claiming that NAct don’t want to get rid of the Epsom coat tail effect because it may damage their chances of being re-elected.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I believe that Dr Holly Walker was correct on this matter when she wrote: “There is a tradition of legislation making changes to the electoral system being passed unanimously in Parliament, and it would be great if all parties were able to put aside their own short-term political interests and build a consensus around the Electoral Commission’s report.” Dr Walker wrote that on 6 November last year in a little-read blog called Frogblog, and I agree with her.
Holly Walker: Thank you for the promotion—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Would the member like to start her question again.
Holly Walker: Thanks for the promotion, Minister. Which party or parties have blocked consensus in Parliament on the recommendations of the MMP review?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Actually, no party has been able to reach consensus, because consensus actually requires all parties to agree.
In a later press release, Holly Walker argues that the government did not live up to the promise of improving the MMP system following a review:
“The review was carried out in a timely manner with a robust public submission process, a high degree of engagement and a clear steer from the public on what they’d like to see changed.
“National has undermined this process by ignoring the wishes of the New Zealand public, in particular to abolish the one electorate seat threshold.
“It is weak of the Minister to hide behind the excuse of needing cross-party consensus.
“Consensus is always great to aim for but with the self-interest of the National, ACT and United Future parties always likely to derail this process, the responsible thing for the Government to do was to implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission as a package in time for the next election.
“The Minister wants to gerrymander the system so that National don’t lose their coalition partners and can rely on ACT and United Future at the next election.
Tonight on Checkpoint on RNZ, Metiria Turei says that Collins is confusing “consensus” with “unanimous” support for all the changes. Further she argues that there would never be a “unanimous” agreement on the recommended changes. Turei said the Greens don’t agree with all the recommended changes, but will support them. Key did promise a review, holding out the carrot of possible changes.
I did get the impression that many people voted to keep MMP, with the idea in mind that important changes could be made to some of the undemocratic elements, such as the Epsom fiddle. It’s interesting that we learn that changes won’t happen soon after John Banks has said he will stand for Epsom again.