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Nats scrap citizens’ jury on electoral reform

Written By: - Date published: 5:49 pm, November 28th, 2008 - 42 comments
Categories: election funding - Tags:

Frogblog reports:

The Green Party initiative to have electoral reform reviewed and managed by a citizens’ jury has been scrapped by the National government today. While not surprising, it does mean that electoral reform falls back into the hands of the politicians – putting the wolves back in charge of the hen house. The press release came at the usual ‘don’t look now’ time of 4 pm on a Friday, a trick that both National and Labour use to hide unpopular announcements.

Attack on democracy, eh?

42 comments on “Nats scrap citizens’ jury on electoral reform ”

  1. Robin Grieve 1

    I don’t remember The Standard defending democracy against the Labour Green outragious attack on democracy when they passed the Electoral Finance Act that had a chilling effect on democracy. This is the citizens forum appointed just before the election when convention requires no appointments be made.
    Labour got kicked out for their arrogenc eand their attacks on democracy, may be you could remind us what The Standard said about the EFA at the time.

    [lprent: I personally always find it amusing when some crazy person thinks that a program has opinions. Perhaps you’d be better addressing it to a person? Otherwise it is all just empty assertions aimed at no-one by someone dumb enough to think that a program has a mind. That is a characteristic I view as being symptomatic of a troll – see Rules. ]

  2. sweeetdisorder 2

    And, as Simon Power says in his press release

    Government disbands EFA Expert Panel
    Justice Minister Simon Power today announced that the Government has disestablished the Expert Panel on Electoral Administration which was established by the Labour Government two months ago.
    The panel was to have reviewed the administration of the electoral system under the Electoral Finance Act and whether or not political parties should be state funded.
    Its terms of reference included convening a Citizens’ Forum of 70 people to consider the findings of the panel. The cost of the Expert Panel and the forums had been budgeted at $4.57 million.
    The three members appointed to the panel were Associate Professor Andrew Geddis (Chair) of Otago University, Dr Jean Drage of Canterbury University/Victoria University, and Professor Stephen Levine of Victoria University.
    Mr Power says he has written to the panellists advising them of the decision to disestablish the committee and thanking them for their willingness to contribute their “considerable expertise’.
    “The Electoral Finance Act 2007 was passed without a broad base of support across parties represented in Parliament. Similarly, the Expert Panel was established without wider political consultation. National opposed both of these measures.
    “So we are disbanding the panel and will start this whole process afresh.
    “The next phase in the Government’s plan is to repeal the EFA as an interim measure, as promised during the election campaign.
    “We want to return to the spirit of bipartisanship on this issue which till recently had shaped electoral reform in New Zealand.
    “The Government has been sufficiently encouraged by statements made by the Leader of the Opposition since the election which suggest there is now a willingness to participate in a constructive approach toward the reform of electoral administration.
    “Following the repeal of the EFA, we will start work on a new law that will seek as broad a range of parliamentary and public support as possible, to provide an enduring framework for the administration of elections.’

  3. djp 3

    Apparently they will “start this whole process afresh”. So it doesnt mean that there wont eventually be a citizens jury.

    Part of it was to look into state funding of political parties so I will be happy to see that go.

    And in the interim the EFA will be repealled so good news all round really.

  4. gingercrush 4

    Not an attack on democracy just an attack on a failed Labour policy. Not even Labour agrees with the EFA now. Funny that.

  5. Rex Widerstrom 5

    Well a “Citizen’s Jury” was better than “block our ears and go lalalalala we won’t listen to anyone who doesn’t agree with us”, which was Labour’s “consultation” on the issue.

    But I’d still rather a wider alternative than 70 people making the decisions for me, too. Especially since they’re likely to have been made up of well-meaning cardigan wearing “joiners” who devote themselves to do-goodingness mixed with despotic little toffs who’d see it as an opportunity for a bit of gerrymandering.

    Power does say National “will start work on a new law that will seek as broad a range of parliamentary and public support as possible”. There is, sadly, no detail – yet – as to how that will happen and how broad they envisage. Nor whether they’ll go beyond simply looking at the relatively narrow range of issues covered by the EFA and give us a proper review of MMP, the functions and rules of Parliament, the need for a constitution and proper Bill of Rights, opportunities for greater citizen participation in decision making and whole host of other stuff.

    So I’m still waiting and seeing…

    I suspect I’ll be back here complaining when it eventually starts to clarify. Not that I don’t trust them on thse issues because they’re National. I don’t trust them because they’re politicians.

  6. Ianmac 6

    Transparency of Donations was the main reason for the EFA. Yet I still don’t know where the money came from for the 08 Election. Must have been Millions somewhere. I wonder if the transparency will still be the thrust of future EFA?

  7. Quoth the Raven 7

    GC – The panel was going to look at the EFA. Aren’t you always talking about public consulatation? Who do think is better to look at electoral law reform politicians with their vested interests or impartial experts.

  8. Janet 9

    At the same time why not raise the voting age, tighten the criteria for voting, try a bit of gerrymandering, bringing back the rural quota, maybe even a property franchise?

    Administration of elections? Why not let Rodney the Razor into the process and cut out elections altogether and just have a president for life. I’m sure John K would be happy to oblige. Much cheaper. And the Herald will think it’s a great idea.

  9. Felix 10


  10. gingercrush 11

    QtR because National campaigned on getting rid of the EFA so why have public consultation on something National never was going to keep. The EFA was a mess and why anyone defends it is beyond me. Its been attacked by most political commentators including those on the left.

    Janet – You really must be desperate if you’re trying to scare people with silly assertions. Either that or trying to be comedian. Just you’re not that funny.

    Iprent – Relax. If people say The Standard you know they’re not talking about the processes and programming languages that make up a blog. They’re merely stating why don’t the people who write pieces on The Standard do such and such. It isn’t trolling saying The Standard. When something is written in a newspaper large articles etc have people’s names attached to the article. But generally most people don’t use the persons name, they just refer to NZ Herald.

    That and most people would see The Standard as a blog not a program. Yes a blog is made from programming languages but still.

  11. Quoth the Raven 12

    GC – Gerrymandering is exactly what the National party’s rural arm, federated farmers, recommended. Here’s what the head of federated farmers had to say.

  12. gingercrush 13

    QtR – Grow up.

  13. Ari 14

    Ianmac- It looks suspiciously like only the Greens and Act declared their large donations from individuals. If you feel like investigating you could probably burn both the major parties pretty badly with a good leak.

    This is bad forshadowing that they simply plan to game the rules for themselves. I hope you fellows and fellesses are ready to make a lot of noise.

  14. lprent 15

    gc: You’re completely mis-representing the left’s position.

    If I understand the crap (trying to get definite policy apart from headlines from them is hopeless) that NACT are putting out – we’re going back to the EA 1993 with a couple of tweaks. The act that has far more flaws than the 2007 act.

    What people on the left would like to do is to fix the flaws that became evident. What NACT want to do is to move to a system that allowed them to spend their election money at the start of an election year so it is not attributable as an election expense. In other words if I understand the NACT’s ‘policy’ – to make it possible for them to gerrymander a MMP election (in their traditional style).

  15. Monty 16

    Good. the Greenies also better get used to being ignored and becoming irrelevant. The Nats needs to reject every policy initiative and every members ballot for all the next three years. Give these loonies no oxygen and see their support fall below 5%. Hopefully next election the Greenies will be a distant memory.

    On the matter of electoral reform – I would give no voice to those who supported the insideous EFA. The Greenies support of the EFA was a disgrace and they realised it soon after the Bill was voted into Law. Now we have Goff who wants it tossed out – what a bunch of tossers. NZ First has also been punished for their support of it (as well as much else).

    National have the mandate to get rid of the EFA. Labour need to come clean and apologise for bringing it into Law.

  16. Johnty Rhodes 17

    Why not keep the EFA?

    Sure, it needs time to work I reckon. Some parts need to be tightened up I know, such as third parties being able to spend $120K like the EPMU did in the past election. Everyone knows the EPMU=Labour in effect, Andrew Little is in the top echelons of both parties. This will make the playing field more equal.

    No state funding is required also, if you want to be in power surely you should have the means to raise the money yourself.

    [lprent: Damn – removing you from moderation. That is actually a reasonable (if misguided) argument]

  17. Johnty Rhodes 18

    Thanks Iprent:) But tell me why it is mis guided? IIRC the contribtors on this blog were all in favour of the EFA a couple of months ago. What has changed? Being in opposition maybe? I am often a cynic so I reckon keep the EFA. National can use this to use state funded advertising in the months before the election like Labour did. The EFA is opposition un-friedly. But I know that NACTional will repeal this awful legislation and offer bi-partianship in forming new legislation.

  18. lprent 19

    Still checking the javascript comments.

    JR: The reason is not the approach. The problem is the logic.

    EPMU==Andrew Little==Labour

    On that basis I’d have to insist that federated farmers, the NBR, the EMA, and a large number == National

    SST == Act


    Now I don’t think that any of those is true.

  19. gingercrush 20

    Iprent I am not mis-representing the left’s position since I never even talked about the left’s position. I merely said the EFA was a mess (an opinion) and that it had been criticised by political commentators with leftish persuasions.

    As for your point about what National is planning to do, that is legitimate for the left to be concerned about. And as people campaigned against the EFA likewise one would expect the left to campaign, if National puts in something they don’t see as disagreeable. But National campaigned to get rid of the EFA and since National has gotten itself into government it has said the EFA will be gone. Likewise, Phil Goff the new leader of the Labour party has said that the EFA was a mistake. Had National said, no wait a minute we’re keeping the EFA I can just say see people from the left saying: “National went back on its word”.

    The fact is the EFA is gone and finished, National has said they’ll work with other parties, Labour has called for National to work with the other parties. And likely that is what will happen something Labour should have done with the EFA.

    Labour wanting to change policy in electoral finance was fine but it was a reckless not well thought out piece of legislation. They didn;t do enough public consultation, they didn’t work with other parties. And it seemed to me, they wanted to fix it so National would be hurt by the act. As you accuse National of gerrymandering I believe Labour was doing the same. That is why I could not agree with the EFA.

    National should be careful not to enact legislation to replace the EFA with something that favours them and instead should legislate something that is good for the democratic process. When that happens and you feel what replaces the EFA isn’t good for the democratic process feel free to criticise.

    And had National said wait a minute we’ll keep the EFA I can just picure SP making a new post saying National failed for not keeping a promise.

  20. lprent_test 21

    Now checking re-edit and javascript comments

    In other words, the misguided part is to equate that fact that some people are in both organizations – like that SST lawyer – who is now an Act MP – and saying that means that the organizations are the same because of it.

    That just leaves it wide open to the national smear unit and others to try and muddy the issue. Of course it will eventually get thrown out of court like the EPMU case that Farrar maliciously brought earlier this year. That was a rather interesting attempt to destroy the law regarding ‘natural persons’ (or whatever it was called).

    It is like saying this site is paid for by the NZLP – when they have never put a penny towards it.

    Now trying re-edit. Ok get the old one there. I may have to code to make that work

  21. Testing in IE6 running on windows 2K inside of virtualbox on OpenSUSE

    Ok – that largely works. Have to say that IE6 looks more ugly everytime I see it.

    I’m not going to make major attempts to IE6 proof this site. Annoy your IT managers…

  22. lprent as anon 23

    Testing on Safari 3.1.2 on Mac OSX 10.4.11

    OK that works as well. Except that the reedit got rid of the formatting damnit

  23. Tim Ellis 24

    Hey LP while you’re testing, just wanted to say that this format is really cool, especially with the window where you can format anything you want to write.  Just a thought if you haven’t done it, might cause a problem with spam, but can you remove the restriction on only linking to one post in a comment?

    EDIT: for some reason the underline and strikethrough stuff doesn’t work.

  24. lprent 25


    Its been attacked by most political commentators including those on the left.

    I assumed that is what you meant from that. They didn’t attack the whole EFA – they attacked some parts of it. Repealing it and only fixing a few things that they used to attack NZF with, is a repeal – it isn’t a fix.

    Bugger: blockquotes don’t work.

    I’ll get back to this later, I should have done more testing on the backup server… A bit busy now…

  25. gingercrush 26

    The first step towards repealing the Electoral Finance Act will be taken before Christmas, although new provisions around party donations will be retained.
    National Radio

  26. lprent 27

    Testing Bold Italic Underline Strike

    TE: I don’t think it’d cause spam problems – that gets checked at a different layer. It would probably cause issues with trolls, for instance whenever Wishart has a new revelation, we’d get maniacs trying to multi-link it into all 2000 odd posts…

  27. lprent 28

    Testing link to policy and about

    TE Actually I think that you need to upgrade your browser….

    If you think that this is good, you should have seen what I gave the authors 🙂

  28. Tim Ellis 29

    testing link to the hand mirror and norightturn external sites.

    Let me guess, LP.  You created a separate interface with a spellcheck, just for Steve.

  29. lprent 30

    Bit more than that (he’s had that for a while). Try this link
    It will give you an idea of the additions.

    I’m sure that everyone will welcome the ability to put in tables to add to the charts ( 😈 )

  30. Ianmac 31

    Anyway, I believe that the intent of the EFU was OK. It was some detail that was tricky difficult to manaage. Bath with the bathwater sort of thing. Wah! Wah!

  31. Rex Widerstrom 32

    Lynn using IE7 on XP (SP3, patched), using the “add link” button opens the box, but when I type the data and hit “insert” the box just reloads empty.

    Seems like I can’t add links manually by typing code? 🙁

    Yeah yeah, I know it’s my fault for using the Evil Empire but some of us get told what to do by high priced “IT consultants” who don’t know anything other than how to read a bloody MS manual.

    [lprent: I’ll look at it today – laptop still has XP (and I have zilch vista). There is also meant to be a button appearing giving the option of going back to pure HTML]

  32. Haven’t read all the comments but perhaps someone could answer these questions.Does National have an agreement to implement Green Party policy?Did National campaign on Green Party policy over Citizens’ Juires?If it’s No and No, case closed, and another beat-up from Tane.

  33. Chris G 34


    Can one not express dismay at a favourable policy being dumped? re citizens jury. Or should we all keep our traps shut and let the tories pump through any legislation they want?

    Cos you can bet your bottom dollar ill be expressing some dismay when they start limiting the power of unions.

  34. higherstandard 35

    If you really want to see an attack on democracy look no further than the Brits at the moment ………… what on earth were they thinking ?


  35. Ari 36

    Haven’t read all the comments but perhaps someone could answer these questions.Does National have an agreement to implement Green Party policy?Did National campaign on Green Party policy over Citizens’ Juires?If it’s No and No, case closed, and another beat-up from Tane.

    So wait… they’re dismissing the citizen’s jury and experts’ panel on electoral law, most likely very consultative and non-partisan methods of review… in order for a more multipartisan review?

    Yeah, obviously a beatup. *rolls eyes*

  36. higherstandard 37


    Perhaps if the Greens had not voted for the EFA they could take the high ground.

  37. Ianmac 38

    What happened to those convenient easy-to-use editing functions? They were there at 11:19pm.
    Will the Govt trash every idea that is not their own? So Working for Families should be trashed for no other reason than Labour thought of it? Sounds petulent to me.

  38. Janet 39

    There was a citizens’ jury used by Wellington City Council in the 90s about whether to sell Capital Power (the WCC’s own power company – and how wealthy we would be if we had kept it!). I can’t remember what happened to the process (and I think the decision came out strongly against the sale) but the new mayor Mark Blumsky went ahead and sold it anyway for idealogical reasons.

  39. Westminster 40

    How about a Royal Commission on the whole shebang?  Funny, over the past twenty years, I have heard politicians banging on about “agency theory” and the idea of those with an interest in the outcome influencing an outcome.   In keeping with the politicians’ paranoia, I suggest letting politicians anywhere near the electoral process is likely to end in a result that is compromised.  The community’s interest in an electoral process is slightly different to the interests of politicians.  It is time for a fundamental consideration about all aspects of our electoral system.  Getting a Royal Commission in place would be an effective way of ensuring the politicians’ influence is moderated.  The only caveat is to not let politicians set the TOR.  That’s precisely how we ended up with MMP.  Palmer skewed the TOR to favour “strong parties” and from that little acorn grew the huge oak of MMP and the pre-eminence of political parties.  We could easily opted for STV or some other proportional system that de-emphasised the influence of political parties but for Palmer’s clever sleight of hand.

  40. Ari 41


    Perhaps if the Greens had not voted for the EFA they could take the high ground.

    So you’d accuse someone who’d take water instead of milk when they’re dying in a desert of not being thirsty? Because that’s pretty much how the Greens felt about the EFA.

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