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Electoral Commission wants to hear from the public on MMP

Electoral Commission
Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri

13 February 2012

Electoral Commission wants to hear from the public on MMP

The Electoral Commission today launches a review of the MMP voting system, and seeks input from the public on possible changes to the way MMP works.

“This is a chance for all New Zealanders to have their say on how the MMP voting system might be improved,” says the Electoral Commission’s Robert Peden. “Look for more information from the Commission, about the review and how to make a submission, in Thursday’s newspapers.”

The review was triggered after the 2011 Referendum on the Voting System, in which the majority of voters chose to keep MMP as New Zealand’s voting system. As a result, the Electoral Commission must now carry out an independent review of MMP and report back to Parliament by the end of October this year.

“It’s easy to get information and have your say,” says Mr Peden. “You don’t need to be an expert - just have a view on how MMP might be improved.You can make your submissions by post, online or by email, and can also present your submission at a public hearing.”

“All the information you need is on our website at www.mmpreview.org.nz, or call freephone 0800 36 76 56 to have an easy submission guide sent to you.”

The Electoral Referendum Act 2010 sets out the issues the Commission must consider in the review. These are—

• What thresholds parties should have to cross to qualify for an allocation of list seats in Parliament,
• Whether list MPs should be able to stand as candidates in a by-election,
• Whether a person should be able to stand as a candidate both for an electorate seat and on a party list,
• Whether voters or political parties should decide the order of candidates on a party list,
• What should happen when a party wins more electorate seats than it would be entitled to under its share of the party vote,
• The effects of population growth on the ratio of electorate seats to list seats.

The Commission can also consider other issues, as long as they relate directly to the way MMP works. Parliament has excluded Māori representation and the number of Members of Parliament from the review.

Any member of the public, either individually or representing a group or organisation, is invited to make a submission to the Commission, and there are several ways to do this. Submissions can be made online, emailed, or on paper as well as in person at public hearings.

Submissions from people wishing to appear at a public hearing must be received by 5 April, and all submissions must be received by 31 May. Once submissions close, the Commission will develop a set of proposals, based on the information and views presented in submissions and from the public hearings. These will be released as a Proposal Paper in August, and the public will again be invited to comment.

A final recommendation paper will be presented to the Minister of Justice by 31 October.

REVIEW OF THE MMP VOTING SYSTEM

What is the review about?
The purpose of the review is to recommend changes to the way MMP works, and will give everybody the chance to have their say on improvements that might be made to the MMP voting system.

The review was triggered as a result of the 26 November 2011 referendum on the voting system, held in conjunction with the General Election.

What was the result of the referendum?
There were two questions asked in the referendum. The first question asked voters if they wanted to keep MMP as the voting system we use or change to a different system. The second question asked voters to choose between four alternative voting systems if there was a change.

Because 57.77 % of voters opted to keep MMP, an independent review must now be set up to ask people about possible changes to MMP.

How did it come about?
The review forms part of a package of electoral reforms initiated in 2010 which included new electoral finance laws and a review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. More information about these initiatives is available at the Ministry of Justice website.

In December 2010 the Electoral Referendum Act 2010 was passed which set out the details of the referendum on the voting system. The referendum was held at the same time as the 2011 General Election.

Who is doing the review of MMP?
The Electoral Commission (the Commission) is undertaking the review. It is an independent body.

Parliament has excluded Māori representation and the number of Members of Parliament from the review.

The Minister of Justice or Parliament can direct the Commission to review other matters and the Commission itself has the power to include other aspects of the MMP voting system, including matters raised with it by the public.

What is not included in the review?
The Electoral Referendum Act 2010 does not allow the Commission to review the number of MPs we have, or Māori representation.

These issues are included in the review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. Information about this review is available at the Ministry of Justice website .

Who decided what to review?
All the details about the review can be found in the Electoral Referendum Act 2010

Section 75 of the Electoral Referendum Act 2010

(1) The Electoral Commission must commence a review of the mixed member proportional representation voting system for the House of Representatives as soon as practicable after the result of the referendum is declared under section 20.
(2) The purpose of the review is to—
(a) determine through a public consultative process whether changes to MMP are necessary or desirable; and
(b) make any recommendations for changes to the system to the Minister of Justice.

What is the timeline for the review?
The Commission must present a report to the Minister of Justice by 31 October 2012 with recommendations on whether any changes to MMP are necessary or desirable. As soon as practicable after receiving the report, the Minister must present a copy of it to Parliament.

What is the process for the review?
The public submission process begins on 13 February, with the launch of the dedicated website and consultation paper. Public submissions are open until the end of May, and can be made online, by email, by post and in person at public hearings.

Once all submissions are received, the Commission will develop a set of proposals, based on the information and views presented in submissions and from the public hearings. These will be released as a Proposal Paper in August, and the public will again be invited to comment.

A final recommendation paper will be presented to the Minister of Justice by 31 October.

How can the public get involved?
Any member of the public, either individually or representing a group or organisation, is invited to make a submission to the Commission. There are several ways to do this. Submissions can be made online, emailed, or on paper as well as in person at public hearings. The public will also be invited to comment on the Proposal paper released in August.

What happens after the Commission’s report is presented?
It will be for Parliament to decide what to do with the Commission’s recommendations.

TIMELINE FOR THE MMP REVIEW

Date Activity
13 February 2012 www.mmprevieworg.nz launches
13 February 2012 Consultation Paper released and call for submissions
April – May 2012 Presentation of submissions (public hearings) take place
31 May 2012 Submissions on Consultation Paper close
June – July 2012 Consideration and development of possible proposals for changes to MMP voting system
August 2012 Proposal Paper released and call for submissions
7 September 2012Submissions close on Proposal Paper
31 October 2012 Final report presented to Minister

ENDS

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