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Reducing Parliament to 100 MPs has lost relevance

March 14 2006

Reducing Parliament to 100 MPs has lost relevance

Jim Anderton has written to Barbara Stewart MP to inform her that he will not be supporting her Member's Bill to amend the Electoral Act 1993, to reduce the numbers in Parliament to 100 MPs.

"In 1999, the political climate created by the debacle of the National-New Zealand First MMP government and other issues such as the behaviour of the Alliance's Alamein Kopu, encouraged New Zealanders to want to restrict parliamentary numbers to less than 120 MPs," Jim
Anderton said.

"Because of these political problems, prior to 1999 election, Labour and the Alliance promised to introduce the Electoral Integrity Bill as a matter of urgency, which got enthusiastic (and necessary) support from Winston Peters to pass when we became the Government.

"Since then, New Zealanders have experienced a lengthy period of stable and constructive government, where more, rather than less, parties in the House, are prepared to work co-operatively with the Labour-Progressive coalition Government to realise some of their key policy gains. Political parties want positive engagement with the Government rather than the negative realities of Opposition. Good government will continue to influence the mood change against reducing the number of MPs.

"New Zealand is not overly represented by Members of Parliament compared with other countries. Australia has 4.08 MPs per 100,000 population and Canada has 3.58 MPs per 100,000. New Zealand has 2.79 MPs per 100,000.

"In 1986, the Royal Commission recommended growing the numbers of Members of Parliament and one of their reasons for this was the need for more talented and representative members to do the serious and detailed work of our Select Committees. New Zealand is now a world leader in the way our Select Committees scrutinise legislation and give New Zealanders a public place to be heard.

"Barbara Stewart's bill will not deliver the stability to our parliamentary democracy that 120 members of Parliament gives to New Zealanders over a substantial period of time. The Member's Bill to restrict parliamentary numbers to 100 would, in fact, always deliver an overhang, increasing the numbers to over 100 MPs at every election under an MMP system. Take, for example a party, which wins 7 electorate seats but only gets 1% of the list vote. Such a result would automatically result in an overhang of an additional 6 seats in Parliament.

"I note that in the 2005 election, the '99 MP Party' stood on a programme to reduce the Parliamentary numbers to 99 MPs and gained a total of 601 votes (0.03%) of the total vote of 2,286,190. In my view that vote reflects the fact that the times have moved on," Jim Anderton said from Parliament today.

ENDS

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