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Peters - Lets Have Only 80 MPs

Theme: “It’s the quality – not the quantity, that counts!”

One of New Zealand’s First’s founding fifteen principles, in July 1993, was that Parliament should consist of 80 Members.

Despite the introduction of MMP – which we campaigned extensively nationwide for – we still believe that an MMP Parliament can function effectively with that number.

In short – we believe that one third of all MPs, 40 of them, could be laid off. It’s happened to a lot of other New Zealanders in recent years.

We believe the ratio could be fifty constituent MPs and thirty from the list or something around these proportions.

Electorate size:
One of the objections to having only fifty constituent MPs is the enlarged size of the electorates but remember that FOUR Maori MPs served their people for a century in seats much larger than any of these would be. One of these Maori electorates is the whole of the South Island and a significant part of the North.

Better transport, better communications and new technology has been of considerable assistance – and it will only improve further.

I don’t recall a great clamour from non-Maori about the size of the Maori electorates being too big. Likewise, the electorate of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia is bigger than the whole of New Zealand and many European countries.

Right now MPs are falling over each other in certain areas.

Look at Tauranga where I have had an electorate office open five or six days a week since 1984.

In 1997 National set up an office there. What they do in it, Heaven only knows!

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In 1998 ACT set up an office there and what THEY do in it, no one wants to know!

With two per cent candidate and list support, it is irrelevant.

Last year, Frank Grover and no one knows who he belongs to now, also set up an office in Tauranga.

With less than one per cent support, one can only surmise what goes on there.

Labour now says it is going to set up an office in Tauranga too!

Until I told you this tonight – no one knew which other politicians were there. No one else in Tauranga knows either!

So, we have five offices set up for MPs in Tauranga at great expense to the New Zealand taxpayers when everyone knows it is the best represented electorate in New Zealand!

Setting up MPs offices in Tauranga is the fastest growing industry in the city.

They’ve all got secretaries, fax machines, telephones, stationery and so on.

Mr Shirley has now pulled out as the Act candidate, and has generously transferred his two per cent support to Katherine O’Regan.

If he is not a candidate for Tauranga what on earth has he got an office for there?

That is an abuse of taxpayers’ money and ACT is supposed to be the taxpayers’ friend!

Perhaps this office is where National and ACT tried to organise the Tauranga election results.

The Royal Commission of Electoral Reform said MMP could work with 100 MPs. (New Zealand First said 80)

We ended up with 120 because National and Labour – being opposed to MMP – organised the 1993 referendum to be a choice between First Past the Post status quo (99) versus MMP (120) hoping that the extra MMP numbers would put people off voting for MMP.

This was another old party arrangement behind closed doors.

However, what happened was that voters held their noses and still voted for MMP.

If you examine the Hansard vote you will find that the very people who now say that they are opposed to 120 MPs actually voted for that number.

Richard Prebble and Mrs Shipley were foremost in that debate, voting for 120 MPs.

Back at that time I proposed an amendment to reduce the number to 80 MPs but in the egregious self serving manner of politicians today, virtually every MP voted it down.

So, imagine my astonishment when Mrs Robertson turned up at Parliament with her petition for 99 MPs and there waiting to receive it was Richard Prebble, or someone who looked remarkably like him.

Remember, he had voted for 120 MPs!

And as for Mrs Shipley – she has adopted more positions on MMP and MP numbers than an Egyptian belly dancer.

In 1993 she voted in the House for 120 MPs.

In 1997 she publicly favoured 99 MPs, and after a visit to Europe last year she was lavish in her praise of MMP.

Earlier this year she wanted to subvert the process Parliament agreed to in 1996, with a referendum on whether to go back to FPP next year – and to by pass the formal review in 2002.

This electorate, Wellington Central, is where the old parties are working to manipulate the system for all they are worth.

National has pulled out to try to save Prebble. Who is prepared to bet that Labour and the Alliance won’t do a deal, and that Phillida Bunkle pulls out in favour of Marian Hobbs?

This sort of arrangement denies people the choice of choosing their MP and is a conspiracy against the spirit of democracy itself.

Finally, reducing the number of MPs to eighty would not seriously affect the work of select committees.

There are too many of them, and some of the work they do is irrelevant to improving the economic and social welfare of New Zealanders.

On the other hand, the important issues should be discussed out in the open in Parliament, where everybody can see and hear what is going on.

We should not decide the future of our country in a committee room.


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