Dump Maori seats and MMP says report

New Zealand should abolish MMP, scrap Maori seats and the Maori roll, have only 79 FPP MPs, and establish an upper House, according to an Australian-based think tank.

The most controversial proposal by pro-free market economy Centre for Independent Studies was the abolition of the Maori role and Maori seats.

Researchers Luke Malpass and Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich, a German lawyer and economist, said the idea of race-based electorate seats in a modern liberal democracy seemed “anachronistic.”

In a report out today they said no systemic bias existed against Maori in the electoral system preventing them from entering parliament.

They said Maori representation, measured by seats in Parliament held by those who considered themselves Maori, exceeded the percentage of the population which considered themselves Maori.

In a modern New Zealand, there were few convincing arguments for retaining Maori seats despite their historical role in parliamentary representation.

They said New Zealanders needed to seize the opportunity of the upcoming MMP referendum on electoral reform to “reinvent” their system of government.

The report claimed MMP had failed to live up to its promises.

It claimed MMP had not made politics more transparent, more straightforward or more representative.

Mr Malpass said it was time to replace MMP with a system that worked.

Their report recommended Parliament should shrink to 79 MPs elected under first past the post, Maori seats and the Maori roll should be wound up and an upper house of 31 senators be elected on a proportional basis.

According to Messrs Malpass and Hartwich, a new senate would provide a check on power and allow the interests of smaller parties to be represented.

Commenting on MMP being based on the Germany, Dr Hartwich said Germany’s electoral system might be an interesting case study for political scientists but it was not “a panacea for other countries’ political problems.”

They said the central design flaw of MMP was that it was undemocratic – voters voted for a party but after the election parties hammered out what the government should be.

The public was unsure about the role of list MPs and did not value them as highly as their directly elected colleagues.

Among the strange results produced by MMP, the researchers singled out the 2008 election, when MPs were re-elected to parliament and remained as representatives although they had been rejected by their own local voters;

• Former deputy prime minister Michael Cullen, who spent his time as finance minister as a list MP without ever getting the backing of his local voters;
• Former opposition leader Don Brash, who never attempted to stand in an election and convince an electorate to vote for him since the introduction of MMP;
• Former foreign affairs minister Winston Peters was not officially part of the government, he publicly opposed the New Zealand China free trade agreement but traveled to Beijing to sign the treaty as the government’s representative.

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