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Electoral law reform- More democracy or More self serving? - Ted Johnston

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Ted Johnston, Coleader of New Conservative states "There are important changes needed to the Electoral laws, but we must beware Labour and National passing self-serving laws to further perpetuate their duopoly."

Our elections are just passing of the baton of power between them. This has lead to a similarity of policy, so at times it is hard to know where Labour ends and National starts.

The MMP threshold must be taken to 3.5%. This is the most obvious issue. The excessive 5% threshold has for decades been a complete barrier against the development of new parties. Pre-existing parties like the Greens and Act became sidekicks to Labour and National. NZ First did have a modicum of power before it was twice cut down by the threshold.

For a real choice in democracy and allowing the will of the people to be represented, 3.5 is required. This is still high enough that it will not cause splintering into tiny little parties.

The term length of government is very important. We have no effective controls over the unbridled power of parliament. The 3 year term slows down the ‘arrogance of power ‘ that usually develop by a government’s second term, resulting in a voter backlash and the government being replaced. This ‘arrogance of power’, is shown by the govt completely ignoring the people and passing laws that are ideological or which show extreme favouritism to their supporters.

Increasing terms seriously lower the limited accountability the government currently has to the people. The long overdue enshrining of the bill of rights as supreme law would be needed to protect the rights and freedoms of our people and our democracy.

If we increase the term to 4 or more years we should definitely consider having recall elections, so that if the public was extremely upset by a rogue government, then a petition with a 75% majority could seek a new election.

Lowering the voting age is silly. Children do not have the knowledge and understanding to vote, and are easily manipulated even at school to follow the will of adults that have authority over them. Look at all the schoolchildren marching for global warming. But if 16, why not 12. In fact if children can make massive life altering decisions at 5 like changing gender why can’t they vote then? Obviously the idea is ridiculous.

Remove the coat-tailing anomaly. Act for example having a life support line from National for years has prevented the growth of real opposition parties to Labour and National. The recent parliamentary protests showed there is no real opposition in parliament. This real opposition who were speaking with the voice of the people, are outside parliament in parties such as New Conservative, but that opposition voice is ignored by the media and so not heard by the public

Electoral financing is a key issue, as the giant corporations or other interested bodies by funding both sides obviously benefit, or they wouldn’t do it. Minor penalties make current legislation a farce.

We must also ensure the absolute integrity of the voting system. This is the most fundamental issue. Overseas countries have shown the potential danger with computerised voting and voter fraud. The possibility of computer hacking and falsifying of votes must be completely prevented. There must be more rigorous and transparent checking of the vote, and ability for parties or the public to check voting papers and records.

Total suppression of tv and radio advertising for political parties outside the election time is a serious problem that crushes smaller parties, and the tiny amount of funding during elections creates an effective ban on small parties TV advertising during the election period. This is completely unacceptable in a modern Western democracy.

Big changes need to be done, and are well past due, but the main ones must be to the MMP party threshold, and the protection of voting integrity. Then we may have real independent voices representing the people.

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