The pros and cons of MMP
By Roger Childs
One of the best things about MMP is that the leading party has to make compromises when it’s in power. Since the system was instituted in New Zealand in 1996, no party has been able to rule alone, so all governments have been coalitions.
This brings us to the worst aspect of MMP: individuals and parties with minimal support, often have undue influence.
A recent case in point is National’s parasitic ally, ACT’s David Seymour, who has been able to inflict the expensive and largely unsuccessful charter schools on the country.
However, with the lack of a decisive outcome in the weekend’s election, a party with significant popular support, New Zealand First (NZF), will decide who governs.
The term dates back to England in the second half of the 15th century. During the Wars of the Roses, Richard Neville, 16th Earl Warwick (pictured alongside), was a key figure in determining who would sit on the English throne, and consequently earned the title of “King Maker”.
The epithet was also applied to Wiremu Tamihana in the mid 19th when he pressured a very reluctant old Waikato chief, Te Wherowhero, to become the first Maori “king”.
In the early 21st century, Winston Peters has twice had the role in deciding which of the two main parties would govern, and here we go again!
Taking worthy policies to the table
Winston has long been regarded as the black sheep in New Zealand’s political farmyard. However, he has been responsible for some significant innovations in the past, with the best known being the Gold Card for pensioners.
This time, as the country waits on Winston’s choice, it is good to know that certain logical and practical policies which National and Labour don’t support, will be on the negotiating table. Here are six examples.
- Limiting immigration The record number of new settlers in recent years has been a cause for concern as it has put major pressure on services, but especially on the availability of housing. NZF does not advocate zero immigration, but wants to set limits.
- Not going into a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Donald Trump is of the same view, but there the comparison ends. NZF view, shared by probably most New Zealanders, is that a TPP would give foreign corporation unfair rights in the country and be a threat to the independence of PHARMAC.
- Limiting foreign investment NZF has long been concerned over the massive buy up of New Zealand resources by foreign companies. Over the last 10 years overseas interests, with China leading the way, have bought up large numbers of dairy farms, companies, forestry blocks and properties. National governments have been happy to see this happen as Chinese business interests have been generous donors to the party coffers.
- Abolishing the Maori seats These were a sensible innovation in the 1860s to give Maori representation in the New Zealand parliament. Today the vast majority of people calling themselves Maori, have mostly non-Maori ancestry. Furthermore there is a significant number of people with some Maori blood in “general” seats. Having special seats for a particular ethnic group, is a glaring example on inequality.
- Wind up the Waitangi Tribunal Billions of dollars have been handed out to iwi since the tribunal was set up. Most of this money has gone into trusts and business investments, and consequently “the Maori economy” is incredibly wealthy, along with many iwi leaders. NZF wants to see so-called treaty costs reduced.
- Banning 1080 poison Sodium fluoroacetate kills anything that breathes and over 50 years of on-going drops in the hill country have probably killed millions of birds and insects. There are plenty of vested interests involved in this lethal industry, but NZF wants it stopped.
Enjoying the limelight!
Winston’s has never been a shy violet and will relish his time in the spotlight while he considers whether to go with National or Labour.
He campaigned on the slogan of HAD ENOUGH? (of many policies of the National government), so would he want to join Bill English and his team? The fact that National were gunning for him in the Northland seat and took it off him, would also not have gone down well.
As regards the left, Winston has supported a Labour government before, however he is not great mates with the Greens. A possibility on this side of the political spectrum could be a Labour-NZF Coalition with Greens support on supply and confidence.
As the nation waits and watches, two things are certain:
~ Winston will at least wait until October 7 by which time the 380,000+ special votes will have been counted.
~ He will ultimately pick up some of the baubles of office in the next government.