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ACT’s Democracy Policy A Step Closer To Implementation

“The Independent Electoral Review’s endorsement of ACT’s plan for a referendum on the Parliamentary term is a bright spot amid a list of otherwise dopey ideas,” says ACT Party Leader David Seymour.

“ACT has already secured a Government commitment to introduce my Constitution (Enabling a 4-Year Term) Amendment Bill to Parliament within 15 months. Crucially, we will only extend the Parliamentary term if two conditions are met: control of select committees must be handed over to the opposition, and the changes must be approved by the public in a referendum.

“Lawmakers have often grumbled about brief three-year terms where more time is spent planning and campaigning than on actual delivery of election promises. But the flipside is that we mustn’t risk overweighting the powers of the executive branch of government.

“ACT’s legislation will provide an option to extend the term of Parliament to four years, on the condition that Parliamentary Select Committee membership is proportional to non-executive party membership throughout the preceding term of Parliament. This means fewer patsy questions, in favour of genuine grillings of Ministers and officials like we saw with the Opposition-chaired Epidemic Response Committee.

"In other words, future Governments will be given more time to deliver on their manifestos while facing more scrutiny on their laws.

“The Review’s endorsement of the referendum approach reflects a broad consensus, supported by ACT, that the voting public gets the final say on questions of how their votes translate to the allocation of state power. It’s the same principle that drives ACT’s initiative to restore the right to local referendum on Māori wards at the council level – another commitment won in our coalition agreement.”

Votes for 16 year-olds a victory for Greens, Chairman Mao

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“In June, I said the Independent Electoral Review’s draft recommendations would set New Zealand on course for a permanent left-wing government. That holds true for the final report.

“More state funding for political parties, lowering the voting age to 16, giving all prisoners the right to vote, special protection for Māori interests – all of that will have the Greens and the Māori Party rubbing their hands with delight. ACT will block these recommendations.

“Only 13 per cent of Kiwis support lowering the voting age. The last thing we need is another 120,000 voters who pay no tax voting for more spending and bigger government. As for the idea that this is about equal rights, give me a break. You’d never see the Greens campaigning for kids to vote if they thought those kids were all voting ACT.

“Combine voting at 16 with civics delivered by left-wing teacher unionists and you’ve got a recipe for cultural revolution, pitting indoctrinated socialist youth against the parents and taxpayers who pay their bills.

“Taxpayer funding for political parties would have a corrosive effect on our democracy, putting our current set of parties on the taxpayer teat with an unfair advantage over outside challengers. And New Zealanders will be rightly queasy about funding political campaigns they disagree with. I’d worry for the mental health of any Green Party voter who’s forced to pitch in for the re-election of ACT’s Rural Communities spokesman Mark Cameron.

“ACT thinks it’s a good thing that politicians have to go out and fundraise from the community. It’s not democracy when parties are funded by the very institution they’re supposed to be holding accountable.

“A number of similarly dopey ideas from the review will also be shut down by ACT, such as a new fund for campaigning to Māori, removing rules against enticing voters with refreshment and entertainment, and allowing the size of Parliament to creep up as the population grows.

“Together, these ideas fly in the face of common sense and if put to a referendum will only serve to distract from more worthwhile debates, such as around the length of the Parliamentary term and the makeup and power of select committees.”

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