This Member's Bill sets out the Green Party’s priorities for strengthening our democracy.
Why are we doing this?
We're proud of our MMP system and want to strengthen it so New Zealanders from all walks of life have the best possible access to their democratic system. Successive governments have ignored issues with our electoral system and Electoral Commission recommendations to fix these issues.
What are the Greens proposing?
The Green Party wants to see substantive reform in five areas:
1. Strengthening transparency and safeguards on donations to parties and candidates
Big money in politics undermines the democratic principle of one person, one vote. We propose 3 changes to the law to better regulate electoral donations:
- A full ban on overseas donations
- Disclosure requirements for all donations over $1,000 to a candidate or a party (currently the disclosure level is for donations over $15,000)
- A prohibition on one person donating over $35,000 a year to a party or a candidate
2. Enabling voters of Māori descent to change roll type at any time
This was recommended by the Electoral Commission in their report into the 2017 General Election. 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.
3. Overturning the prisoner voting ban and giving all people in prison the right to vote
The Green Party believes strongly in upholding and strengthening human rights. The prisoner voting ban is a breach of one of the most fundamental rights – the right to vote. The National Party Attorney-General said this when it was being passed in 2010. Subsequently, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court have all confirmed this.
Excluding people in prison from processes that engage them in society is alienating and will only make rehabilitation harder. People in prison have their freedom of movement taken away from them, but they are still people with human rights including the right to vote.
4. Implementing the 2012 MMP Review recommendations
The Electoral Commission was asked by the National Government to review MMP in 2011. They ran a public consultation on what New Zealanders wanted to see change but then all of their recommendations were ignored by politicians. The Green Party thinks the full package of changes recommended and consulted on by the Electoral Commission should, finally, be considered and passed by Parliament. The full report can be found here. The most substantive recommendations are:
- Lowering the 5% party vote threshold to 4% and getting rid of the one electorate seat threshold (the coat-tails rule)
- Fixing the ratio of electorate seats to list seats at 60:40 to help maintain the diversity of representation and proportionality in Parliament obtained through the list seats.
Under our Bill, the MPP Review recommendations would come into effect for the 2023 General Election.
5. Extending the voting age to 16
Voting is a fundamental human right. Across the world, we are seeing switched on 16-year-olds who are desperately unhappy with the decisions political leaders are making about their futures. They should have the right to have a say on their future, as the decisions made now will impact young people the most.
The Electoral Commission has also called in the past for Parliament to consider changing the age to 16 so that people can first vote while they are at High School. This has been shown overseas to increase youth turnout and create voting habits.