A bill that would lower the threshold for minor parties to enter Parliament and “put an end to tea party-style stitch-ups” has been drawn from the ballot.
Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway said the bill lowered the party-vote threshold from 5 per cent to 4 per cent and removed the coat-tail provision that allowed major parties to do deals with minor ones to help them into Parliament.
The Palmerston North MP’s Electoral (Adjustment of Thresholds) Amendment Bill was pulled from Parliament’s ballot today and seeks to implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission review held after the MMP referendum.
Personally I support changing the thresholds, and my submission said so. But these sort of significant changes should only occur if there is consensus between the more significant political parties. The Electoral Act should not be some sort of grand prize which winning parties use to screw over losing parties, to try and stay in power longer – which is what Labour did last time. National has deliberately refrained from making significant changes to electoral law, if Labour doesn’t agree with them. The idea is to maintain that consensus, but it looks like Labour are ditching the need for consensus:
Lees-Galloway acknowledged he would probably struggle to get support for the bill.
“There’s no need for consensus here. Political parties just need to vote according to what they think is right,” he said
So who knows what changes to electoral law we’ll see if Labour wins.
It is worth noting that this bill does not implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission in full. It cherry picks the recommendations they agree with, but doesn’t implement the recommendation to get rid of overhang seats or setting a ratio of electorate to list seats.
By not getting rid of over-hangs, Labour’s bill would have seen the size of Parliament in the last three elections as 127 MPs, 128 MPs and 126 MPs.