INDEPENDENT NEWS

Lobby Backs Supplementary Member

Published: Wed 28 Apr 2010 09:25 AM
Lobby Backs Supplementary Member
The Put MMP to the Vote lobby today declared supplementary member (SM) its preferred voting alternative to MMP.
Co-leaders Peter Shirtcliffe and Graeme Hunt said an SM-elected Parliament would mean the number of list MPs would be slashed and “listers” would be stopped from subverting the will of the people.
“Under a 120-member Parliament, 90 members would be elected by first past the post with just 30 top-up MPs. If New Zealand opted for a 100-member Parliament –– something electors voted for in 1999 –– there would be just 20 list MPs,” Hunt said.
“What’s more, proportionality would apply to list seats only so it would be virtually impossible for list MPs to stop the party that won the most seats on election night from forming the government for the next three years.
“We have recommended SM because it provides for diversity but does not undermine electorate MPs. Under our system, electorate MPs would be denied a place on party lists. This would mean a defeated electorate MP could not return to Parliament via a party list. It would spell the end to electoral double-dipping.”
Shirtcliffe said SM, which operated successfully in the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales, offered electoral stability by bringing to an end the power of small parties to frustrate the will of the people, such as over the anti-smacking debate.
“We don’t suggest SM is the only alternative to MMP –– first past the post and preferential voting have considerable merit –– but it represents an electoral compromise that most New Zealanders can live with.
“List MPs are unpopular because they are selected by parties in secret and not directly accountable to electors. We want to restrict that abuse.
“We believe SM, with the appropriate safeguards, would restore faith to the parliamentary system, lead to greater voter participation in parties and foster higher turnouts in general elections.”
The Royal Commission on the Electoral System, which recommended MMP in 1986, said SM would be “likely to build on existing levels of [elector] participation” but added that popular control of Parliament under SM would not differ much from under first past the post.
“Single-party governments would continue to be the norm because the constituency results would not be altered by the allocation of the list seats,“ the commission said.
ENDS

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