Philip Temple makes some good points in the Herald today:
The Minister of Justice, Simon Power, indicated that he would soon present a paper to Cabinet on the proposed referendum on MMP. Presumably this will hold true to National’s election promise, that it will be held “without any further consideration”. Meaning no consultation with the voters, no review or inquiry, no select committee hearings.
That is not good enough. For it is about now that we should remind ourselves, and the Government, that the voting system belongs to us – the voters – and not the politicians. That it is unacceptable for the National Party to simply tell us what kind of question we will be getting in the proposed referendum, and when, and what might happen afterwards.
Key has previously indicated, like Shipley before him, that he would prefer Supplementary Member system. This is what Temple has to says about that:
In a display of seeming flexibility, they agree there should be a “degree” of proportionality in our voting system and suggest Supplementary Member as a replacement for MMP. As its abbreviation indicates, however, we would be submitting ourselves to a degree of electoral sado-masochism in adopting a system that is nothing more than a proportional sham – FPP with knobs on.
We would be lining ourselves up with countries with much shorter democratic histories such as Armenia, Kazakhstan and South Korea. It was also the electoral option least favoured by New Zealanders in the “preferendum” held in 1992 to ascertain which alternative voting system we preferred.
Power has apparently been sent away to decide whether or not there should be one referendum with two questions at the next election. That wasn’t what their policy said, and would presumably be tried as a way to slide in SM. We could be up for getting rorted again.
As for National’s dedication to their policy, stated by Key as the reason for holding a referendum in the first place, Power should be asked whether it is still National’s intention to begin a constitutional process to abolish the Maori seats which was in the same policy.