HOLLY WALKER (Green) to the Minister of Justice: Does she intend to bring legislation to the House that will implement the recommendations of the MMP Review in time for the 2014 election?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice) : No.
Holly Walker: Why did she bother to hold the MMP review if she had no intention of implementing its recommendations in the time line intended?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Of course, I did not hold the MMP review; that was a matter that was undertaken by the Electoral Commission. But I can also say that I have made it very clear that we need consensus on these matters for any change, and there is no consensus for any change.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I believe that Dr Holly Walker was correct on this matter when she wrote: “There is a tradition of legislation making changes to the electoral system being passed unanimously in Parliament, and it would be great if all parties were able to put aside their own short-term political interests and build a consensus around the Electoral Commission’s report.” Dr Walker wrote that on 6 November last year in a little-read blog called Frogblog, and I agree with her.
This was entirely predictable.
I agree that significant changes to electoral law should not be made without wide-spread support from affected political parties. A policy Labour shattered with the malignant Electoral Finance Act, but one honoured by National in drawing up replacement legislation. In fact I actually think National compromised too much on that legislation by agreeing to third party spending limits.
I actually think National should have backed changes to both thresholds, namely reducing the party vote one from 5% to 4% and eliminating the one electorate seat threshold. But they have decided not to, and such a significant change should not occur without wide-spread parliamentary support.
I remain very nervous that when there is a change of Government, Labour and Greens will again abandon any commitment to not making significant partisan changes to the Electoral Act and will rewrite it to suit themselves. Time will tell.