Home' The Wellingtonian : June 2nd 2011 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JUNE 2, 2011
Choosing a fair voting system
Like Christmas, this year's
election still seems a
reassuringly long way off.
However, the recently leaked
news of an anti-MMP campaign
aimed at influencing the election
referendum has been a startling
reminder of just how close we are
to the season of full-blown
Anyone, of course, is free to
mount a campaign against (or
supportive of) MMP.
However, the news that the
prime movers in the anti-MMP
campaign are (reportedly)
activists allied to the National
and Act parties suggests that
this particular effort is not
exactly a spontaneous grassroots
The referendum on the voting
system will be held in tandem
with this year's general election,
and will ask voters whether they
want to retain MMP.
Voters will also be invited to
choose their preferred alterna-
tive from a list comprised of First
Past the Post, Supplementary
Member, Preferential Vote and
Single Transferable Vote
Even voters who want to retain
MMP will need to remember to
choose between the alternatives,
if only because (should the anti-
MMP vote prevail) voters in 2014
will be making a binding choice
between MMP and 2011's top-
Finally, if MMP survives all
these obstacles it will be
subjected to a review by the Elec-
toral Commission, which will
seek public feedback and report
to the Justice Minister on what
changes to MMP are deemed to
be necessary and/or desirable.
New Zealand has had five
If the hallmark of a fair system
is whether it reflects voter
choices, then MMP has
succeeded on one important
measure at least.
After the 2008 election, 93 per
cent of voters had their party
vote or electorate vote repres-
ented in Parliament.
The comparable figure for the
last FPP election, in 1993, was
only 54 per cent.
For such reasons, the anti-
MMP campaign has reportedly
given up on FPP, and will focus
on promoting the SM (or sup-
plementary member) system
That's a clever choice, if
change is to be sought at all.
Under an SM system, there are
essentially two parallel elections
-- one held in electorates under
FPP, and a list vote, where seats
are assigned proportionately,
according to votes.
Unlike MMP, SM carries out
no overall proportional adjust-
It would thus enable the anti-
MMP campaigners to harness
the hostility to MMP, and to the
role of the party list.
This year, Labour's only real
hope of gaining power is to weld
together an opportunistic
coalition of minor parties (per-
haps including Winston Peters)
that is hardly likely to depict
MMP in an attractive light.
For its part, the anti-MMP
cause will be trying to downplay
overseas evidence that the SM
system cements in the power of
the party bosses, who control the
party list even more so than
It is also hard to see how
voters in November will be able
to vote blind for the SM system
without knowing -- and this is a
crucial point -- just what the ratio
here between electorate seats
and party list seats under SM is
proposed to be.
Still, in a year when the polls
suggest the election itself is
something of a foregone con-
clusion, the voting system battle
is shaping up as a far closer and
more unpredictable contest.
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I see that Catherine Bindon (May
26) and others are enjoying the
new recycling game of Guess
what you can put out today''.
We have the lovely large
upright bin which, as a couple,
would take us six months to fill.
We foolishly left a little
recycling outside tidily wrapped in
a plastic bag next to our half-
empty rubbish bag.
When we returned we found the
rubbish was gone and that the bag
containing recycling sat alone on
the pavement. We can't buy a
smaller rubbish bag and we don't
want smelly recycling hanging
around for a fortnight.
The answer to that vexed
question is, if you get it wrong you
will have to collect the bag of
goodies in whatever smelly/wet/
blown condition the day may have
dealt, and keep it for yet another
The message is clear for smaller
households. Place it all in the one
yellow bag and get on with life.
Thank you to the city council for
making our life simpler.
Light rail a
Philip Hayward persists in his
To use his words, anyone with
half a brain'' would understand
that environmental damage is a
moral issue, pitting the rich and
powerful against the young and
His latest outlandish theory,
that high-density housing goes
with totalitarian regimes and
sprawl goes with free democratic
society, is laughable.
Transit-oriented development is
a concept first espoused in the
The catchment area of light rail
extends further than the narrow
corridor he assumes. Statistics
show 500 metres is the average
distance most people are happy to
walk from the rail terminus at
Wellington Railway Station and is
about the distance he will soon
have to walk from his car to his
destination (assuming he is lucky
enough to even find a car park) if
road expansion continues
The actual corridor light rail
will serve will be about one
kilometre wide, enough to cover
most of the CBD and a significant
chunk around its whole route.
Its ensured popularity will
enable it to emulate the financial
success of the Airport Flyer,
resulting in its eventual
expansion to serve more of the
Feeder services from the rail
spine will take care of more
In defence of
I read with dismay Maria van der
Meel's comments (May 19) about
octogenarian Beverley Benton
working, and wonder that Ms van
der Meel must be a sad,
Many older people like Beverley
Benton do not need to work to
remain active, and do not work
with the intention to deprive the
young of employment, but work
because they are still capable
mentally and physically, and
retain an interest in people and
prefer not to sit on the sideline
and vegetate to oblivion.
They pay their taxes, which go
to government coffers and filter
down to pay benefits to those less
fortunate or unwilling to get
Your correspondent is taking a
swipe at all older workers,
implying that just because they
are at the regulatory retirement
age they should cease to occupy
positions that in some instances
they may have held for many
I say good on you Beverley.
Is Maria van der Meel aware
Beverley spends many hours
(unpaid) working in the
community, and that she pays to
belong to a Lions club that raises
funds for charitable purposes?
I find it curious that Ian Cameron
of Ngaio suggests (May 19) that
cyclists use designated cycle
paths, of which there are few, to
Of the few, the shared cycle
lane along Oriental Bay is
perhaps one of the most congested
in Wellington, because it is a great
place to stroll.
Using this path would mean
slowing down considerably for
most cyclists -- which is exactly his
gripe should the limit be reduced.
How often does Mr Cameron
A car has an engine, a cyclist's
engine is the rider and cycling is
propulsion and momentum, not
stopping and starting to avoid
children and strollers. We
shouldn't have to either.
I move at 30kmh when I
commute. A footpath is not the
place to do it. Does Mr Cameron
want the hundreds of cyclist
commuters on this stretch of
Educating drivers to share the
road is the biggest hurdle to
overcome for most people on bikes.
Ratepaying cyclists tackle this
conundrum daily. KATE MELZER
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