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Lobby Calls For Early Single Referendum On MMP

A statement from Put MMP to the Vote

Lobby Calls For Early Single Referendum On MMP

The future of the voting system should be decided on or before the next general election and not be allowed to drag out into the next parliamentary term, the Put MMP to the Vote lobby warned today.

Spokesmen Peter Shirtcliffe and Graeme Hunt said the best outcome would be a single two-part referendum held between now and 2011 in which electors would be asked to vote first on a choice between retaining MMP or changing the system and then vote on their preferred electoral system.

The second vote would come in to effect only if a majority in the first part of the referendum voted for change.

Put MMP to the Vote said voters could be asked to rank up to four electoral options preferentially in the second part of the referendum. These could include:

• First past the post (the system used before 1996);
• Supplementary member (a majoritarian system with an element of proportionality –– less than under MMP);
• Preferential voting (the system used for elections to Australia’s House of Representatives); and
• Single transferable vote (the system, used for some council elections in New Zealand and in parts of Australia and the Republic of Ireland).

Peter Shirtcliffe said it made sense to allow voters to rank possible replacements for MMP preferentially.

“This would ensure that should the public vote to scrap MMP, no new electoral system would be voted in with less than 50 per cent public support,” he said.

Graeme Hunt said a two-part referendum, provided people had a clear understanding of the choices out there, would be an accurate reflection of the people’s will.

“If the second part of the referendum were delayed beyond 2011, there is no guarantee a future government would allow the vote to be held.

“It is our view that an informed two-part referendum should be held on the same day, ideally before the 2011 general election.”

The Put MMP to the Vote lobby said concerns about the future of the electoral system could be dealt with by a legal requirement for a binding poll on the electoral system to be held every 20 years if the public demanded it by way of petition.

Hunt said this would keep the voting system transparent and allay concerns in some quarters that people might be disadvantaged of disenfranchised by electoral change.

Shirtcliffe said the aim should be to have voting system that most New Zealanders were happy with and one that met the tests of high voter participation and turnout.

“If the system is to change it needs to be by way of an informed referendum process. Noting less would be in the public interest.”

For further information contact: Peter Shirtcliffe

ENDS

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