A suite of measures to strengthen democracy are being proposed by the Green Party with a Member’s Bill.
The Electoral Strengthening Democracy Bill seeks reform in four key areas:
- Strengthening transparency and safeguards on donations to parties and candidates
- Enabling voters of Māori descent to change roll type at any time
- Overturning the prisoner voting ban and giving all people in prison the right to vote
- Implementing the 2012 MMP Review recommendations
Green Party electoral reform spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman is introducing the bill, and said:
“New Zealand proudly has a strong democratic system, our MMP system is rightly representative.
“In saying this, there is definitely room for improvement to ensure we have the best democratic system possible and that access is fair.
“The changes I am seeking in this bill will ensure that New Zealanders from all walks of life have the best possible access to their democratic system.
“The Bill seeks to stop unfair influence and potential corruption in politics. We should absolutely not be seeing political donations come from overseas and we need to reduce the anonymity threshold so that we can see who is donating to political parties.
“Māori should be able to choose which roll they are on at any time. Currently Māori can only change roll during the Māori Electoral Option, which is a short window of time once every 5 years. This restriction is unnecessary and removing it will help Māori participation in our democracy.
“Currently we exclude people in prison from voting, this is alienating and only makes rehabilitation harder. Voting during elections would engage them in society and mean they are exercising a fundamental human right – the right to cast a vote.
“These are all changes that will only seek to enhance and improve our democratic system. New Zealanders understand that everyone should be able to exercise their right to vote and that corruption should be prevented whenever possible.
“The Bill also includes all of the recommendations from the 2012 review of MMP that was conducted by the independent Electoral Commission after NZ voted to keep MMP at the 2011 Election. We think these recommendations, which include removing the coat-tails rule and reducing the threshold to 4%, should be implemented in full rather than letting political parties cherry pick what they like and don’t like from the independent recommendations.
“This Bill if passed would ensure that New Zealand is leading the way on the world stage when it comes to our democracy. Something all New Zealanders would be proud of. I urge the Minister to pick up this Bill as a Government bill and will be asking for his support.”