An independent panel of experts is recommending a radical reshaping of the nation’s political landscape, including lowering the voting age to 16, capping political donations and a referendum on extending the parliamentary term to four years.
The series of draft recommendations, suggesting sweeping changes to ensure the system is delivering for voters, would give the more than 125,000 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote, and grow the electorate by more than 3%.
People aged 16 can already drive, have a firearms licence, and leave school.
In its interim report, the panel also recommended extending voting rights to all prisoners, changing the party vote threshold to 3.5% and abolishing the one electorate seat threshold.
Here are my thoughts on the ideas expressed.
Allowing Prisoners to vote: Yes. You don’t lose your intrinsic right to vote in a. democracy because you are in prison. The punishment of prison is your liberty, not your civil and human rights. The reason National fucked up the prisoner voting rights ban is because they didn’t get the supermajority to do it. Seeing as your rights are curtailed in prison, allowing prisoners the right to vote is essential because they have no other voice inside prison.
Lower MMP threshold to 3.5: Yes. The 5% threshold is too high, it doesn’t work and it limits the ideas and ability for smaller parties got actually engage in the process.
Lower voting age to 16: Yes. Their rights as citizens are being impacted by climate change while older voters don’t give a shit. Politicians having to hear young voters concerns is a good thing.
4 year terms: No. I say 3 years because our Parliament is a unicameral legislature which makes it the most powerful Parliament in the Westminster tradition. Under urgency you can literally read a bill into law within a day! That’s enormous power and to allow that power to go unchecked by the people once every 3 years feels like a recipe for abuse. The reason little gets done in 3 year terms is because the public service block reform and change for their own agendas. A party that actually had a 100 day legislative plan could force change but that takes courage. Lengthening the term will just allow the Wellington Mafia to entrench their interests further. Politicians need to be brave and use the powers this Parliament provides rather than lengthening the dates between accountability!
Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice – please donate here.
If you can’t contribute but want to help, please always feel free to share our blogs on social media