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Ninety-Nine MPs Too Few - Boston

by Bridget Mayne - City Voice

IF NZ cuts the number of MPs to 99 it will have one of the smallest national parliaments for its size in the developed world.

That was among figures presented by political scientist Jonathan Boston at the first City Voice/Scoop election forum on 23 Sept.

But NZ First leader Winston Peters said his party stood by one of its founding principles – that Parliament should be cut to only 80 MPs.

Peters urged the audience of 160 to support a referendum, which is being held with the general election, to cut the number of MPs from 120 to 99.

Boston’s figures showed that with 120 MPs, NZ was in the middle of a list of 23 small countries in terms of the number of people per MP.

If the House was cut to 99 members, NZ would have more people per MP than all but seven of the countries.

He said reducing the number of MPs would:

• Cut the proportion of women, Maori and other ethnic minorities.
• Reduce the quality of constituency representation.
• Reduce the pool of talent from which the cabinet is selected.
• Reduce the effectiveness of select committees.

But Peters said that with 120 MPs, four list MPs from different parties had opened or planned offices in his Tauranga electorate.

As a Maori in a general seat, he felt “tokenism” was long gone. There were more Maori and women in Parliament because of MMP, not because of the number of MPs.


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