MMP Review a crushing disappointment
Justice Minister Judith Collins recently dismissed adopting any of the changes to our electoral system recommended by the Electoral Commission’s Review; a process that cost 1.6 million dollars and engaged over five-thousand New Zealanders. Collins’ decision—conveniently announced amidst the furore around embattled MP Aaron Gilmore’s resignation and the hubbub of the then-impending budget— blamed a lack of “consensus…or even a majority” for not supporting any of the relatively conservative changes. While we didn’t agree with all of the recommendations, this response simply doesn’t cut it.
Political consensus on these changes was never going to form between parties whose fortunes depend so greatly on the outcomes, so if that was necessary, why did the Government bother with the Review at all? Electoral law sets the rules of the political game, and parties will more often than not only support the rules that give them an advantage. This is exactly why the Commission was tasked with the job by then Justice Minister Simon Power—to objectively provide recommendations based on input and evidence from New Zealanders, freed as much as possible from partisan pandering. It is disrespectful that thousands of people, myself included, spent valuable hours ‘having our say’ only to then hear after the fact that any change was entirely dependent on political consensus.
It is also disingenuous. When the 2011 referendum to retain MMP was held, there was an agreed, legislative requirement that should it be successful, a review to fix some of the problems in MMP would be undertaken. While it’s impossible to say just how many people voted in the referendum in good faith that this process would be respected, it is reasonable to say many may have voted differently had they known the Review would be a fool’s errand and that ultimately, they would be left with the exact same electoral system they started with.
With stunts like this, is it any surprise that voters feel less and less inclined to visit the ballot box these days?
What a waste.