Review of MMP submission

I was really delighed that New Zealanders voted to retain MMP at the election in November 2011.  MMP has resulted in a far more representative parliament and a stronger democracy. A review is currently underway to improve the way MMP works. Submissions can be made until 31 May 2012.

I’ve done a quick submission on a number of areas that the Electoral Commission must review:

The 5 per cent party vote threshold for a party to be eligible for allocation of list seats.

I support the lowering of the party vote threshold to 4% or below to compensate for the abolition of the one electorate seat threshold

The one electorate seat threshold for a party to be eligible for allocation of list seats.

The one seat electorate threshold should be abolished with a consequent lowering of the percentage of the party vote threshold. I support this because it is more consistent with the proportional nature of MMP and means everyone’s vote count, no matter where they live in New Zealand.

The effect of a party’s candidates winning more seats than the party would be entitled to as a result of the party vote on the ratio of electorate seats to list seats.

I agree with maintaining the status quo, so that an overhang is allowed. Changing the status quo will not resolve any issue of unfairness to parties or proportionality.

The capacity of a person to be both a constituency candidate and list candidate.

I agree with maintaining the status quo, so that dual candidacy is kept

Dual candidacy ensures greater gender and ethnic representation. The number of women candidates is declining (from 29% in 2008 to 28% in 2011) the creation of two mutually exclusive pools will require more women and a greater rate of attrition in both pools. The abolition may have the unintended effect of reducing the diversity of Parliament. Denying dual candidacy could drastically reduce the calibre of candidates standing for seats they are unlikely to win, short- changing voters as a result. If there was an unexpected swing to a Party, low calibre electorate candidates for that Party would be elected at the expense of higher calibre and more diverse list candidates.

The capacity of a list MP to stand as a candidate in a by-election

Maintain the status quo, allow List MPs to contest by-elections. There appears to be no reason why a list MP should not stand in a by-election.

Voter apathy and media blackout gifts Citizens & Ratepayers the AECT

In the end it was far too easy for the status quo to prevail. Citizens & Ratepayers simply targeted 25,000 plus supporters with a personal letter asking for a vote for all 5 candidates on their ticket. The rank and file fell into line and compiled to ensure all five Trustees are now from one political party. The lack of media interest in the election and the incredibly low turnout (less that 17%) meant that it was an impossible task for an independent, or even the other tickets, to get anywhere close.  The AECT media release announcing the election result can be read here.

The AECT website optimistically states that “Your five trustees all come from different backgrounds and each one brings a different perspective to the decisions the Trust makes.” Unfortunately the election results means that only a small number of the Trust’s 300,000 beneficiaries, who are spread across the diverse communities of Auckland, Manukau and Papakura, can claim to be represented by the elected Trustees.

It is hugely disappointing election process and outcome that leaves the unsustainable direction of the Vector unchallenged for another three years. It also allows Vector to continue on a reckless “business as usual” path without adequately responding to the current environmental challenges or tackling an unhealthy corporate culture which is leading the company to inevitable crisis. 

It will be interesting to see what the media and electricity consumers make in future of power cuts, under investment in energy infrastructure, rising energy bills, excessive Trustee fees, unsustainable dividend payments, a lack of community engagement by the Trust or any of the range of issues facing Vector and the AECT.

The AECT election has exposed how voter apathy, a paucity of information and well placed resources can distort the democratic process.  There are many lessons to be learnt as we fast approach the first super city elections if we want fresh thinking, a sustainable future and inspiring community leadership to be part of Auckland’s governance.

Still waiting for your voting documents?

By the end of day 3 of postal voting for the AECT election  only 6.78% of eligible voters have returned their voting documents (at the same stage in the 2006 election it was slightly better but still only 9.70%) . Unfortunately a majority of electricity consumers do not know that they are beneficiaries of the Trust or that there is an election going on.  Another problem is that in some places the papers have not arrived yet even though they were sent out last Thursday.  If you received the $320 dividend from the Trust in September or have moved into Auckland City, Manukau City or Papakura since then and your name is on the power bill you can vote for YOUR Trust.
 
To chase up voting documents please call Independent Election Services Ltd, on 09 307 7211 or 0800 922 822 and ask for a special voting paper.