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Initial MMP Referendum By May Next Year

“National will hold an initial referendum on MMP in May next year followed by a binding second referendum in November should New Zealanders vote to reconsider the electoral system,” Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, said today.

“National strongly believes that political parties should make their views on constitutional matters very clear before an election and seek a mandate from the electorate for them.

“Most New Zealanders have always thought the country was going to have a second chance to vote on MMP. Many were surprised to learn that they would not get that. They were even more surprised to hear that any decision on MMP would actually be made by a select committee of MPs.

“In April this year the Prime Minister announced that National will give New Zealanders a second chance to consider MMP by re-running the 1992/93 Referenda.

“With so much dissension around MMP, we should let the people decide to confirm MMP or choose a new system. We have to get this settled once and for all. Political certainty is a must for economic and social stability.

“The first referenda will be held in May following a comprehensive information campaign to properly explain the alternative electoral systems that are available. New Zealanders will be asked if they want to change and if so, what to. If people vote for change then the preferred option will be run against MMP in a binding referendum in November.

“The last time New Zealanders considered the electoral system only two options were widely debated – First Past the Post and MMP.

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“However, there are alternative systems that can provide a more representative Parliament than the old FPP, and these should be debated.

“This time around New Zealanders will want a lot more information about those alternative systems. It is imperative that this information is made available if we are to have a proper public debate.

“By late next year, we’ll have had four years of MMP and two elections. That’s plenty of time for voters to make an informed decision about its future. If New Zealanders decide to stay with MMP that should be the end of it. No more carping from anyone.

“Labour-Alliance-Greens have all criticised our plan preferring to have MPs decide the issue.

“The Left’s position contrasts sharply with that of National which believes that New Zealanders themselves should decide constitutional matters.

“There has been some discussion recently on radio and in business journals about incorporating the Treaty of Waitangi in constitutional legislation.

“National wants to be quite clear: we have no plans to incorporate the Treaty of Waitangi in a written constitution. And, no plans for the Treaty becoming legislation in its own right.

“There is no proper polling of whether or not Maori people themselves want this. Just as importantly, there is no evidence that other New Zealanders want this. Nor have the repercussions been debated publicly.

“We want to make our position clear before Saturday and want other parties to do so too,” said Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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