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MMP referendum takes shape

Published: 11:48AM Tuesday February 16, 2010 Source: ONE News

The government has released the proposed wording for next year's referendum on MMP.

The referendum, to be held in conjunction with the general election, will ask voters two questions.

The proposed questions are:

Part A: Should the current MMP voting system be retained?
I vote to retain the MMP voting system
I vote to change to another voting system

Part B: Regardless of how you voted under Part A, if there was a change to another voting system, which voting system would you choose?
I would choose the First Past the Post system (FPP)
I would choose the Preferential Voting system (PV)
I would choose the Single Transferable Vote system (STV)
I would choose the Supplementary Member system (SM)

Read a description of the proposed voting systems.

Justice Minister Simon Power says the exact wording of the questions is crucial to the success of the referendum.

"The bill empowering the referendum, including the questions will be subject to public scrutiny through the select committee process," Power says.

The bill is expected to be introduced to parliament in April.

If a majority of voters opts for a change to the voting system, the government will hold a second binding referendum in conjunction with the 2014 election, asking voters to choose between MMP and the most preferred alternative.

"Five general elections have now been held under MMP and it's timely to consider how the voting system is working. This is an important issue for New Zealand and it cannot be rushed," Power says.

The bill also provides that if a majority of voters opt to retain MMP, then a review of MMP will be held by the new Electoral Commission, due to be operational by October this year. The review will seek public opinion on MMP and report to the Minister of Justice on whether any changes to the MMP voting system are necessary or desirable.

"I'm aware that many people would like to retain MMP with some changes. The government has carefully considered how to incorporate those concerns into the referendum process. If there is support to retain MMP as a voting system, there will be a review to see how MMP can be improved."