In 'da House | Issue 22

In 'da House | Issue 22

Getting Winstoned

I recently survived a live interview on Morning Report, head-to-head with Winston Peters. I figure that has to be some kind of political rite of passage.

The topic was MMP and how to improve it. When 58% of New Zealanders voted to keep MMP, we triggered a review of the system. Over 4,500 people submitted, and the Electoral Commission has recommended several changes, including abolishing the one electorate seat threshold (which allows parties with one electorate seat to bring in list MPs even if they donít meet the party vote threshold), and lowering the party vote threshold from 5% to 4%.

Mr Peters and I, along with the overwhelming majority of submitters, agreed that itís time to get rid of the one seat rule. It effectively means that voters in some electorates (like Ohariu and Epsom) have a greater say over the make-up of Parliament and the Government than the rest of us, and thatís just not fair. It has to go.

Where Mr Peters and I disagreed was about lowering the 5% party vote threshold. He thinks it should stay at 5% to prevent a proliferation of crazy small parties getting into Parliament and messing everything up (Iím paraphrasing, just).

He might have a point if we got rid of the threshold altogether, but dropping it by one percent wonít have the destabilising impact Mr Peters fears. In fact, the Electoral Commission crunched the numbers in its report, and found that in the history of MMP there have only been three instances in which parties got between 4% and 5% of the party vote ó and TWO OF THEM WERE NEW ZEALAND FIRST.

Admittedly the other was the Christian Coalition in 1996, which is pretty scary, but those results hardly suggest a 4% threshold would spell the end of stable government in New Zealand.

I was able to make this point during the interview because I had read the report, and Iím sorry to say I was rather smug about it (ďif youíd actually read the report, Mr Peters...Ē). But hereís the thing: the only reason I had read it was that I just happened to have completed a speed reading course the previous day, and used my new-found skills (900 words a minute!) to whip through it that night.

So, it seems only fair that I conclude by saying: I can totally recommend Write Limitedís Advanced Reading Intensive 1 day seminar

(www.write.co.nz). $495 and worth every cent.
This article first appeared in Issue 22, 2012.
Posted 5:17pm Sunday 2nd September 2012 by Holly Walker.