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National to press for electoral referendum

Sunday 12 March 2000

National to press for electoral referendum

Anti-democratic and dictatorial is the only way to describe Labour’s attitude to the select committee on electoral reform, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

“National believes New Zealanders are being shut out of the process by Labour’s refusal to include a referendum in the terms of reference for the review of the electoral system,” Mrs Shipley said.

“New Zealanders deserve to have a say. It’s their system, not the politicians’, and National intends to make sure they have a say by introducing a private member’s bill that requires a referendum to be held.

“National has always believed that people should have a say on this question. The future of the electoral system is too important to be decided by a group of MPs, who inevitably have an interest in the system,” Mrs Shipley said.

“We believe people would have more faith in the electoral system if it is one they have debated and decided on for themselves.”

Mrs Shipley today released correspondence between herself and Prime Minister Helen Clark and Attorney-General Margaret Wilson, which reveals that the Government has turned down all National’s proposals for the review.

In February Mrs Shipley wrote to the Prime Minister with four concerns:

 The review should not be chaired by the Speaker, whose office should be non-political and above controversy.
 The make-up of the committee should reflect the proportionality of Parliament.
 A referendum should be held to give all New Zealanders a say.
 Consideration should be given to entrenching any future provisions.

“Labour is souring the process before it has even begun.

“It is outrageous that large parties with 39 MPs get only two people on the committee while a party with only one MP gets one member. The minor parties will have a say that is way out of proportion with their size.

“Heavy-handed arrogance of the sort Labour is showing in its handling of the review is precisely what people want to get rid of.

“This is not a good sign for how the process will be run,” Mrs Shipley said.


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