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Citizens’ Majority Launched

MEDIA RELEASE: 13 February 2001


The newly-formed Citizens’ Majority launched its campaign on Sunday 11 February for a binding Citizens-Initiated Referendum (“CIR”) on the voting system. An advertisement inviting the public’s support appeared in the Sunday News, the same vehicle Margaret Robertson used to launch her successful petition in 1997 to reduce the number of MPs from 120 to 99. That petition led to 82% of voters at the last election voting for fewer MPs.

Petitioner Stuart Marshall said that at the 1999 election New Zealanders had expressed their dissatisfaction with the way MMP was working after one term.

“New Zealanders believed that we didn’t need 120 MPs in Parliament after 12 years of privatisation of government departments - there was less work for them to do. Voters were also disillusioned with the lack of accountability emerging from a Parliament made up of 53 list MPs. The mood was for less government.”

A year on, eight MPs sitting on the MMP Review Committee are currently considering the future of our voting system and the number of MPs needed in Parliament.

“When people voted for 99 MPs at the last election I don’t think they realised that the decision would be made by a committee of MPs. 1.7 million New Zealanders didn’t vote to have that decision overturned by self-interested politicians. They voted to take the decision themselves.”

Mr Marshall said that the main goal of the campaign is to get 300,000 (10% of electors) signatures on the petition calling for a binding public referendum on our voting system. Once the wording of the petition is approved by the Clerk of the House in March, the Citizens’ Majority will endeavour to distribute the petition throughout the country.

“All we’re asking for is that the people decide on these issues, not MPs. The politicians appear to be flagrantly ignoring the vote of the majority of New Zealanders. Chairman of the Select Committee to Review MMP, Rt. Hon Jonathan Hunt, has made public his views that Parliament can’t do the job with any less than 120 MPs. The resounding vote of the people has met with a resounding silence from the politicians.”

Citizens’ Majority had written to all MPs inviting them to respond by the end of February to two questions: whether or not they agreed to fewer MPs, and if they supported a binding referendum to decide the future voting system.


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