Graeme Edgeler plays a straight bat. Sometime I disagree with him, often I don’t. When he expresses alarm at what Phil Goff has suggested, that Labour will make the Electoral Act a plaything of their party if they win the election then we should all sit up and take notice.
I want there to be a debate about the electorate seat lifeline, and I want there to be a debate about whether we should have a threshold as high as 5% (or have one at all), and Labour has just announced that it’s not going to engage on these matters at all.
It’s also pretty good evidence for what Jordan Williams of Vote for Change has been saying for quite some time: it’s the politicians who will ultimately decide what a remade MMP will look like, not any independent experts. And so far, it isn’t looking good. Of course, it’s the politicians who would ultimately decide what, for example, a new Supplementary Member system would look like as well, but that doesn’t make Labour’s decision to ignore public submissions on an MMP review in order to advance its own partisan interest any more palatable.
Phil Goff’s position is constitutionally repugnant, but at least now we know exactly what Labour thinks. Electoral law is ours not the politicians.
When Phil Goff rails against the threshold provisions remember his history and that of the Labour party to act in venal self interest. National also is guilty of venal self interest in electoral matters:
While not inconsistent with David’s view of a bi-partisan electoral law, we shouldn’t ignore National and Labour’s joint attempts to tilt the system in their favour by, for example: having government and opposition members on the Representation Commission nominated by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition; setting up broadcasting rules massively favouring themselves, including in one instance, combining to ensure a newly-formed New Zealand First couldn’t advertise on radio and TV at all; and increasing the party vote threshold to 5% from the 4% recommended by the Royal Commission.
Phil Goff was in the parliament when the threshold was altered by the politicians. Now he is flip flopping and saying it is all bad.
If anything this whole episode has served to show us the perils of letting politicians control the process of amending our electoral law. This is why I will be voting for Change in the referendum.