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Graeme Hunt: Time to put MMP to the vote

For publication

Time to put MMP to the vote

The donations scandal involving New Zealand First leader Winston Peters provides a compelling reason to hold an early vote on the MMP electoral system, says referendum lobbyist Graeme Hunt.

Hunt, an Auckland journalist and author, said the donations scandal would not have reached national proportions had Mr Peters not been a minister in the Labour-led government.

“MMP elevated the head of a minor party to a major political post at great cost to the country’s reputation. Mr Peters’ fall not only damages the standing of the government of the day but it also brings into question the very system that propelled Mr Peters to power,” he said.

“The case for putting MMP to the vote and letting the public decide whether the voting system meets their needs and aspirations has never been stronger.”

Hunt said he welcomed National’s commitment to a binding referendum on MMP but said the time frame was too long and the details vague.

“I would like National to state in detail what it plans to do if it becomes the government after the general election. That means providing detail of the nature of the question or questions that would appear on the referendum ballot paper and the choices electors would vote on if MMP were rejected.

“It’s not for me to suggest how people should vote –– my opposition to MMP is well known –– but the ideal system for me would be one that would have a large degree of direct constituency representation and a small degree of proportionality.

“We must never again have a situation in national politics of the tail wagging the dog as has happened with New Zealand First and its leader, Mr Peters, in National and Labour-led administrations. Such practice runs counter to democracy and the spirit of good government.”


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