Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Strange bedfellows

11 Responses

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    So I guess the question for everyone here is: are you fine with Parliament making changes to the thresholds, etc. without them going to a public vote?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    No. Until Graeme's post, I thought I was in a minority of one.

    I bring no qualifications to the discussion, except a rough and ready sense of fairness. Which tells me ...

    1) A National-Labour agreement, opposed by minor parties, would be wrong. It might get 75% in Parliament, so it looks OK on paper, but it's still wrong.

    2) A small change to the thresholds, approved by the whole of Parliament - perhaps bar one or two MPs - might be OK.

    3) Any substantive change should not be introduced until after the election. Do we need another referendum? Arguably not, if parties take a clear position into the election. But that "sense of fairness" says, at least, don't change the rules during the game. Change them for the next game.

    Why is 4% good and 3% not? Who decides? How? It shouldn't be left only to MPs, who have a pretty poor track record on such matters, when it comes to equating self-interest and the public good.

    So no, I'm not fine with this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1332 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I guess one argument is that having a referendum over a few minor tweaks would be a waste of energy on a subject few people care about.

    An alternative might be to have a wider ranging constitutional review, maybe considering areas such as making BORA and the Treaty basic (overriding) law, the role of the G-G and 'royal' prerogative, etc.

    Part of this could maybe be to consider requiring a fair voting system as an immutable part of the constitution, and then allowing Parliament room to legislate on the details of that.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I'm in favour of adding the referendum to whatever general election comes up after parliament et al come up with the referendum question. Letting parliament decide is too likely to result in a supermajority in favour of disadvantaging recalcitrant small parties.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    We have had plenty of referendums, they don't do anything. The politicians ignore the results.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    We have had plenty of referendums, they don't do anything. The politicians ignore the results.

    There are non-binding referendums and binding referendums. I am proposing a binding referendum.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    We have had plenty of referendums, they don't do anything. The politicians ignore the results.

    Like the introduction of MMP ? Never happened huh?

    Some referendums are binding...

    Other referendums have been so poorly worded that you cant pay attention to the results. You could have an evenly split population on either "side" of the debate but if you answer the question, as worded, +90% of people had to tick the same box.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I would be happy with parliament enacting this, with two concerns:

    1. That the electoral commission considered the reality of politics in amongst its reasoning for making certain choices.
    2. That parliament might not accept their recommendations.

    If those weren't true, I'd be completely fine with parliament making the change - the lack of #2 in particular means that they aren't looking after themselves.

    In principle, I don't see any need for a referendum for relatively minor changes to electoral law, any more than umpteen other parts of electoral law (and electoral finance law) which have changed over the past couple of decades.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Wait, is Winston saying the changes to the system are undemocratic because people haven't had a chance to vote on them (an undemocratic process of change) or undemocratic because they reduce the democratic nature of our future electoral system (an relatively undemocratic outcome)?

    Because you can have either one without the other. People can vote for the establishment of a dictatorship, and dictators can implement a superbly responsive representative democracy without asking anyone.

    I want the latter one. Where parliament ignores what the majority wants and gives them a better democracy, so that what everyone wants is thereafter represented better in parliament. I know most people might decide to vote against that idea, but that really shouldn't matter at all.

    We shouldn't be allowed to vote for a dictatorship, it's undemocratic, no matter how large the majority.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to tussock,

    Wait, is Winston saying the changes to the system are undemocratic because people haven’t had a chance to vote on them (an undemocratic process of change) or undemocratic because they reduce the democratic nature of our future electoral system (an relatively undemocratic outcome)?

    I believe both. Winston opposes change without a referendum, and would oppose the change (e.g. to reduce the threshold) if it went to a referendum.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Lewis Holden,

    In a way, I wonder if Jordan and Winston have painted themselves into a corner on the issue of the proposed changes being put to a referendum.

    It was clear to me campaigning for MMP that the public doesn't like the horse-trading encouraged by the one-seat rule, or the patent unfairness of the results this creates, especially thanks to NZ First failing to make it back into Parliament in 2008 while the Act Party had fewer votes than them. Interestingly those most vehement in their view the threshold should be lowered tended to support minor parties such as NZ First...

    I think it's most likely that if the Electoral Commissions proposals are put to a vote at the next general election (which I think is a good thing) they would succeed. Given the choice between the faults of MMP 1.0 and the thinking behind MMP 2.0 it's not hard to guess how the public will vote.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

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