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The Forum > Article Comments > Kicking the tyres of NZ's voting vehicle > Comments

Kicking the tyres of NZ's voting vehicle : Comments

By Duncan Graham, published 26/8/2011

Has Mixed Member Proportional Representation halted NZ's gradual breakdown of public trust and confidence in politicians, Parliament, and the simple certainties of the old two-party system.

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The last I heard of MMPR it was being described as a failed experiment. Duncan Graham obviously thinks differently but his criteria for judging success are basically confined to the issues that interest him.

For example, he overlooks economic criteria. Australia has been economically more successful than NZ in part because it has been able to chuck away much of the regulation and agarian socialism that plagued it up until the 1990s. NZ's government has been less successful in that respect, although its gone some way down that path, because it hasn't been able to overcome deeply entrenched interests.

Graham says that the Australia government has been "bullied" by miners. He may be thinking of the resources tax debacle, where the Rudd basically blew both his own legs off. Otherwise its difficult to know quite what he means by this.

In any case changing the system would simply mean exchanging one set of rent seekers with another.. As I understand it, MMPR gives minority groups leverage to make all sorts of demands..

In all there in nothing in this sales brochure that would make me enter the showroom, let alone kick the tyress, of this vehicle. Lets continue to drive the old model.
Posted by Curmudgeon, Friday, 26 August 2011 12:08:46 PM
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MMP is not without its faults, but as a large number of european countries have shown, it leads to a parliament that more or less accurately reflects to diverse composiotn of the electorate. When one party is unable to hold untrammeled power, which is what happens with first-past-the-post systems, they are forced to seek support from a broader range of opinion. That results in legislation more acceptable to a greater proportion of the population. I think the word for that is 'democracy'.

If the writer wanted to look at the type of anomalies that the australian system throws up he need look no further than the number of seats held in the House and Senate by the National Party relative to their share of first preference votes. Contrast that with the Greens share of first preferences and their seats in the House. It requires a very elastic definition of fair and equitable to use those terms to describe the australian electoral scene.

As for the tail wagging the dog, so beloved of crittics of MMP, look at the inordinate power of the National Party in australia (truly 'unrepresentative swill') over the Liberals, depending as each party does on the preferences of the other.

It is past time for a truly serious look at electoral reform in this country, and no option should a priori be ruled out.
Posted by James O'Neill, Friday, 26 August 2011 4:02:35 PM
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Gee James, you've got to be desperate to hold up European governments as an ideal to aim for.

Which part do you like, new presidents every few months, or buying the vote of the lazy, to try to hold power, & sending the whole country broke. It won't be much longer before the only one not bankrupt will be Germany, & it will only survive if it ditches the rest. Perhaps not the best model.

We all ready have more than enough people in Oz who vote, rather than work for a living. We don't need more.

Unlike NZ we don't have somewhere to unload 10% or more of our population, who can't make a living in there own country. I have not seen the figures recently, can you tell me if there are now more kiwi's in Oz than NZ.

Too much more of this rubbish, & we will not be able to accept their overflow. They wouldn't want to come probably, once they perceived that we had become as badly governed as they are.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 26 August 2011 7:27:15 PM
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All power to the Kiwis. They seem well-governed of late, so thereís nothing to criticise. Still, Iím not in the least tempted to try it on in Australia. Weíve got problems with minority government, sure, but thatís nothing a fresh election wonít fix. Change is costly, sometimes exceedingly. On the precautionary principle, if it ainít broke, donít fix it. In any case, the advantages of having more opinions represented in Parliament might well be counterproductive. Recent experience hasnít been good; look at the gyrations poor Juliaís been put through owing to her reliance on the Greens and a few independents. The more effective democracies are dominated by two parties -- voters know who to blame if things go wrong, or who to reward if they go right. Parties can generally get behind a policy and stay there for the long haul; ad hoc coalitions are high maintenance, potentially unstable, not and particularly accountable. Maybe the Kiwis can cope, but I think Australiaís bigger, more diverse in some ways, and likely to benefit from the discipline inherent in established parties.
Posted by donkeygod, Friday, 26 August 2011 8:40:49 PM
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@ Hasbeen. You presumably have Italy in mind when you refer to constant changes of government. Their electoral system is not like NZ which is based on the German model. Why don't you take the time to look at the Scandanavian countries which are models of good government and democracy and use a form of PR.
As for Kiwis leaving the country, that has always been the fate of small countries close to larger richer neighbours. Canada, Scotland and Wales are other examples.
No, there are about 9 times more Kiwis in NZ than Oz. The former prime minister of NZ Robert Muldoon was once asked about the migration outflow of talented Kiwis to Australia. He replied that he wasn't worried: it raised the average IQ of both countries.
It is an unfortunate fact that Australia is getting more and more like the the US each day and one indicator of that is the belief among Australians that what they have is exceptional; i.e. incapabpe of improvement. Such hubris invariably precedes a fall.
Posted by James O'Neill, Saturday, 27 August 2011 10:35:05 AM
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The real problem with our electoral system is the fact that elections are fought and determined in a handful of marginal seats.

This probably suits the politicians. Kissing babies limited to a number of shopping strips.

For the rest of the electorate who live in blue ribbon seats voting seems rather futile.
Posted by Seneca, Monday, 29 August 2011 10:59:15 AM
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