Electoral Commission report fails to move ACT

ACT will not support changes to the Electoral system as proposed by the Electoral Commission in their final report, ACT Leader John Banks said today.  

In its report, the Electoral Commission recommends abolishing the one electorate seat threshold for the allocation of list seats.  It also recommends dropping the five per cent Party Vote threshold to four per cent in conjunction with a change to the Electoral Law which allows the threshold to be constantly reviewed.   

 “Voting systems benefit from infrequent change,” Mr Banks said.  

“Voters will not have any confidence in the Electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with it.  

“In asking for a law to allow for future reviews of its proposed Party Vote threshold, the Commission shows a lack of confidence in its own recommendations.    

“Why else would it ask for such a law unless it was unsure how its proposals will work in practice?  

“Any proposed changes to the threshold are arbitrary.  The five per cent Party Vote threshold is well understood by voters.   In the face of the Commission’s self-professed uncertainty, the five per cent threshold should remain.

 “The other recommendation is to change the one electoral seat threshold.  Again this is well understood by voters and has been a feature of MMP from the beginning.

“Most of the clamour against it is for purely partisan reasons.

“The Commission attempts to avoid the obvious conclusion; the one seat threshold has been working exactly as intended – concentrated geographical support adds to the proportionality of Parliament by lowering the wasted vote.

“The Commission’s assertion that this is somehow unfair is nonsense.  Each voter in every electorate has a vote of equal value.  How they decide to use that vote is up to them, based on the pitch put to them by various political parties.  

“The worn out 2008 example of New Zealand First not gaining MPs but ACT doing so resulted from the voters of Tauranga rejecting this option in 2008, whereas in 1999 Tauranga voters accepted the pitch.

 “There will always be arguments for and against any feature of a voting system.   A much more important priority is keeping the rules of elections consistent.  

“ACT believes the argument for consistency is better than the argument for change,” Mr Banks said.  

The report is available on the Electoral Commission’s MMP Review website http://www.mmpreview.org.nz.