Draft proposals and other changes.
You might’ve seen reports of the draft recommendations of the Electoral System review, released following a long public consultation. In this newsletter I’d like to offer some thoughts on those proposals, who they benefit, and a couple of other changes I think we need.
It’s worth bearing in mind that these are only draft proposals for further consultation. The final report goes to the government in November, so any changes will not occur before the coming election, and some may even go to a referendum.
So let’s start with the recommendations, as reported here:
Lowering the voting age for general elections to 16 and extend overseas voting rules.
Some people complain at the idea of young people voting. They seem to mostly be people that support parties young people are unlikely to vote for. National and ACT. Last November I wrote about extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds:
We know what happens when voting is left to older folks who are more likely to vote. Certainly Tamaki Makaurau has seen the disastrous result of it - Wayne Brown.
Surely an example to all that having young people, with their lives ahead of them and an interest in the planet surviving, vote is a better idea than leaving it to those who want things to remain the same, especially the rates.
Extending voting rights to all prisoners, not just those sentenced to less than a three-year jail term
There might be some good reasons to do this, including looking to rehabilitate people by including them in society. But no political party is going to go into bat for people with serious prison sentences to have the vote. Well except perhaps for the Greens, if you can imagine the caucus scene…
Marama: Some electoral reform could be just the ticket. Ban political donations from overseas, lower the 5% threshold, and get rid of the coat-tail rule.
James: Brilliant, finally a policy where half the population won’t think we’re tree-hugging communists that should bathe more often. Plus of course if a certain party fell below 5% it could be kind of handy.
Marama: To make it even better we also let all prisoners have the vote, no matter what their crime.
James: You’re, you’re… you’re kidding right?
Marama: Nope, think of it like hiding a bit of grated carrot and zucchini in the mince.
Chlöe: Eww please don’t mention meat, can’t you find a vegan analogy for hiding vegetables?
James: Middle New Zea.. ahh, I mean Aotearoa will find giving prisoners the vote as palatable as hiding Brussel sprouts in their Pavlova.
Chlöe: I’ve got a really nice recipe for vegan Pavlova…
This one is a non starter politically, regardless of merit.
Holding a referendum on extending the Parliamentary term from three to four years
I can see some advantages to this. Currently it can seem like a new government spends their first year working out what the heck they’ve inherited, and their third year electioneering. During which time they are loathe to do much. It doesn’t leave a lot of time to get things done.
Almost inevitably it means that Kiwis, being the fair minded people that we are, give governments a second term. Perhaps if terms were longer we’d be less inclined to do so, having had a better chance to assess performance.
Personally I like the three year cycle. But then I’m a politics nut, elections doubly so. I suspect if this goes to a referendum then the majority, who are rather less keen on politics than finding a weta in their gumboot, would support an extension.
Lowering the party vote threshold from 5 to 3.5 per cent and abolishing the coat-tail rule