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Knee jerk populism inappropriate - Labour

Labour
2000 web site
"National's offer of a referendum next year on MMP is short-sighted and risks making New Zealand look like a banana republic," Labour deputy leader Michael Cullen said today.

"Changes to electoral law should not be made lightly or for reasons of knee-jerk political expediency. Our democracy and the rules by which it works are simply too important for that.

"When MMP was introduced it was agreed, at the instigation of Labour MPs David Caygill and Pete Hodgson, that it would be reviewed in the year 2000 [next year] by a select committee of the House.

"Labour believes strongly that this process should be adhered to. Our policy is that any recommendations for significant change arising out of that review should then be referred to the public through a binding referendum to coincide with the 2002 general election," Dr Cullen said.

"It is rich for National to try to capitalise on the public's disenchantment with MMP when National is largely responsible for bringing the system into disrepute in the first place. The Shipley Government destroyed the proportionality of the 1996 Parliament by actively encouraging party-hopping in order to hang on to power.

"A Labour-Alliance coalition will move within the first 100 days in office to close off that option by passing my anti-defection legislation.

"This will require any MP who leaves the party he or she was elected under to resign from Parliament and will do a good deal more to restore public faith in politics than the cheap gesture National is offering," Dr Cullen said.

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