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Supplementary Member system – it’s a bloody rort!

30 October 2011 2 comments

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“Supplementary Member” – It’s a rort!

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Full Story

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When “Vote for Change” spokesperson, Jordan Williams makes the claim that, “there is growing consensus that Supplementary Member is a good compromise between MMP and First Past the Post” – he is, of course creating a new “reality” to suit his group’s political agenda.

For one thing, “there is growing consensus that Supplementary Member is a good compromise” – is not true. There is no such “consensus”, growing or otherwise.

In fact, a poll conducted by UMR Research Ltd in May showed only 3% of voters supported that system,

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Full Story

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Williams’ claim that “Supplementary Member is a good compromise between MMP and First Past the Post” is also nonsensical wishful thinking.

MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) is a proportional system.  The number of MPs is determined (generally) by the percentage of Party Votes that a political party wins.

For example, if the Greens get 10% of the Party Vote, they get 10% of the seats in Parliament: 12 (10% of 120 = 12)

FPP (First Past the Post) is not proportional. The results of how many seats a political  party wins is purely random. In fact, in 1978 and 1981, Labour won more seats than National – but because of the vaguaries of FPP, National was given more seats in Parliament. (FPP is quite  arbitrary in the results it throws up.)

SM (Supplementary Member) is simply another version of FPP – but with “add-ons”.  It is not proportional.

To quote the Electoral Commission’s own website,

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SM – Supplementary Member

There are 120 Members of Parliament. There are 90 electorates, including the Maori electorates. Each elects one MP, called an Electorate MP.  The other 30 seats are called supplementary seats. MPs are elected to these seats from political party lists and are likely to be called List MPs.
Each voter gets two votes.
The first vote is to choose the MP the voter wants to represent the electorate they live in. This is called the electorate vote. The candidate who gets the most votes wins. They do not have to get more than half the votes.
The second vote is for the political party the voter chooses. This is called the party vote. The share of the 30 supplementary seats each party gets reflects its share of the party vote.
For example, if a party gets 30% of the party vote, it will get about 9 List MPs in Parliament (being 30% of the 30 supplementary seats) no matter how many electorate seats it wins.
This makes SM different from MMP where a party’s share of all 120 seats mirrors its share of the party vote.
One or other of the major parties would usually have enough seats to govern alone, but coalitions or agreements between parties may sometimes be needed.

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To paint a picture of the difference between MMP and SM;

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MMP

Proportional?

– Yes

Does the percentage of voter support equate to seats in Parliament?

– Yes. With some rare exceptions,  parties gain only as much seats as the percentage of Party Votes they win.

Eg; 25% of Party votes = 25% of Parliamentary seats (30)

50% of Party votes = 50% of Parliamentary seats (60)

Etc.

Can one of the Big Two parties win more seats than their Party Vote entitles them?

– Generally, no.

Is MMP fairer to voters who vote for small parties such as the Greens, ACT, etc?

– Yes. Supporters of smaller parties stand a better chance of representation than under FPP or SM.

Do unelected Party List MPs get into Parliament under MMP?

– No. This is a myth. Party List MPs are firstly selected by their own Party members. Then, to win a seat in Parliament,  that Party must win over 5% of the Party List votes (or an electorate). So the Green’s 9 MPs were elected into Parliament by 157,613  New Zealanders voting for them. Likewise, ACT’s 4 MPs were elected by 85,496 New Zealanders voting for ACT.

How many seats will there be in a MMP Parliament?

– 120

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SM

Proportional?

– No

Does the percentage of voter support equate to seats in Parliament?

– No. A Party can win more seats than voter support. That is, because as with FPP, a candidate can win a seat with as little as 30% of the electorate vote. There is little correlation between percentages of voter support to final seat numbers.

Can one of the Big Two parties win more seats than their Party Vote entitles them?

– Yes. As with FPP, this will be quite likely.

Is SM fairer to voters who vote for small parties such as the Greens, ACT, etc?

– No. Smaller parties who can’t win electorate seats, and rely instead on the Party Vote, will win only a few seats.

Do unelected Party List MPs get into Parliament under SM?

– No. Again, Party List MPs will be voted in by ticking the appropriate Party Vote. The big difference is that there will be a under-representationfor those New Zealanders who happen to support parties other than National or Labour.

How many seats will there be in a SM Parliament?

– 120

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An example of what a SM-style election result might  look like would be  the 1984 General Election, which was held under FPP,

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Final results for NZ General Election (1984)

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Under MMP, the final shape of Parliament might have looked like this, given the same percentages translated to Party Votes,

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Final results for NZ General Election (1984) - Projected, under MMP System

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Anti-MMP proponent, Jordan Williams, claims that SM “ is a good compromise between MMP and First Past the Post“. It clearly is nothing of the sort.

MMP is already a compromise between FPP and proportional representation because  70 of the seats in Parliament are still elected under FPP. The rest, 50,  are proportionally allocated according to each party’s Party Vote.

SM is simply FPP, with add-ons. The small number of proportionally-allocated seats under SM (thirty out of 120), do not result in a proportional Parliament. It does not give fair representation for smaller Parties. And more importantly; it returns dominance to the Big Two: Labour and National.

And by sheer “coincidence”, the majority  of “Vote for Change” supporters are also National supporters. This is because under FPP or SM, National (or Labour) could govern on their own, without any real break on their executive power.

Past history has shown us – whether under Muldoon’s strictly regimented, centralised economy  – or under Labour’s Rogernomics – than both National and Labour will ram through policies without smaller parties exercising a “braking” effect on their political power. In effect, they have “unbridled power”, as Sir Geoffrey Palmer once said.

Personally, I do not trust politicians with such unbridled power (even ones I vote for). Not because politicians are inherently “evil” – they are not “evil” – but being human, are liable to make mistakes like the rest of us.

MMP at least gives us an opportunity to put the brakes on politicians.

SM is taking the brakes off – and putting your foot on the accelerator for three years.

No thanks. That is why, on 26 November, I will tick the MMP box, to Make Mine Proportional.

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“Vote for Change” and a Big Leap Backwards…

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Having looked at the “Vote for Change” website, their statements are highly subjective and some are downright misleading. For example,

MMP allows List MPs who have been voted out by their local electorates to sneak back into Parliament on party lists.”

This is only half the truth. What V.f.C has “forgotten” to tell the reader is that any candidate  who enters Parliament on the Party List is there because New Zealand voters ticked the Party List vote for that particular party.

Eg; The Attorney General, Christopher Finlayson, stood as National’s candidate in the Rongotai Electorate in the 2008 election. Finlayson failed to win in Rongotai, and was beaten by Labour’s candidate, Annette King.

However, Chris Finlayson won 10,594 Electorate Votes (as opposed to Ms King’s 19,614 electorate votes) and also won 11,950 Party List votes. In total, Finlayson won 22,544 votes.

So Chris Finlayson did not “sneak” back into Parliament: he was elected with 22,544 Electorate and Party votes.

Opponents to MMP, generally, will often skew situations to suit their own p.o.v.

There is more on V.f.C’s website that is a blatant misrepresentation of  the truth… but I’ll leave that for another day.

Instead, I can reaffirm that this blog author supports retaining MMP, and will vote accordingly on 26 November.

I encourage you to do likewise.

Thank you.

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Additional

Electoral Commission: Referendum 2011

Campaign for MMP | Facebook

Campaign for MMP

“Vote For Change”

MMP Or SM? A Big Decision Looms For New Zealand Voters

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58,000 Youth Unemployed

30 October 2011 3 comments

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= 2008 =

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In July 2008, John Key made these committments to New Zealand voters;

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National wants all young people to have the opportunity and responsibility to better themselves, no matter what their circumstances, abilities, or track record.

We expect that all those under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training. To make this possible, National will provide a universal educational entitlement for all 16- and 17-year-olds.

We know there are plenty of 16- and 17-year-olds who have jobs and are learning from them. We also think there are some who might be more motivated and who might achieve more if they could learn in a non-school setting.

This Youth Guarantee will be different from the education entitlements of the past – because we won’t presume that in the 21st century, school will always be the best place for every young adult to be educated.

Our policy will help a large and potentially productive group of young people make a smoother transition from school into further education.

OUR PRINCIPLES

• Building opportunity for all.
• Encouraging ambition.
• Higher standards in education.

NATIONAL’S PLAN

The Youth Guarantee

National will provide a Youth Guarantee – a universal education entitlement for all 16-and 17- year-olds.

This will allow them to access, free of charge, a programme of educational study towards school-level
qualifications.

Most will continue their education at school, but others might be more motivated and might achieve more if given the opportunity to learn in a non-school setting. They might choose to continue their education at, for example, a polytechnic, a wananga, a private training establishment, or through an apprenticeship.

Courses offered under the Youth Guarantee will have to meet strict quality criteria.

This new entitlement will be on top of, not instead of, the education entitlements young people have now.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds who are not working, and who fail to take up this new entitlement, will not be eligible to receive a benefit.

National estimates these new initiatives will cost $65 million a year.

Source

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= 2011 =

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Since then, New Zealand’s youth unemployment has burgeoned from the 25,000 quoted in John Key’s speech, to over double that:  58,000 young New Zealanders.

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Full Story

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Far from “those under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training“, National has actually scrapped or severely cut back programmes that assisted  young people  into skills training,

Govt cut $146m from skills training, Goff says

Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her – Labour

Even policies designed to specifically create jobs have been either failures, or undone by other National policies. For example, National promised the following,

” * $5.3 million to encourage developers of cycleway projects to hire 500 young people”

* $2.6 million for extra training places in the defence forces

Source

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Actual results,

Morale slumps as job cuts hit Defence Force

Cycleway jobs fall short

Army shifts $2m contract to China

Since then, National’s policies for unemployed young people consist of, tinkering with youth welfare benefits,

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Full Story

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Amongst National’s  “bold” ideas is,

Anyone aged 16 or 17 on a benefit – other than the invalid benefit – would be also paid in a different way…

… Money for basic living costs like food loaded on to a new payment card that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettesSource

Which is kinda bizarre, since it is already illegal for retailers to sell cigarettes and alcohol to 16 and 17 years olds.

Another of National’s  “bold” initiatives is to return to youth rates, which Labour abolished in 2008,

Nats propose starting-out youth wage

Election explainer: New Zealand’s minimum and youth wage rates, what’s happened in the past, and why they are an election issue – interest.co.nz

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To some people, introducing a youth rate to give young school leavers and unemployed a chance to get into a job sounds fair and reasonable.

Unfortunately, were it that simple.

A youth rate is counterproductive on several levels.

  1. There is often little difference in productivity between a 19 or 21 year old. So it’s an issue of fair pay for fair work.
  2. A youth rate simply shifts job opportunities from one age bracket to another. There is no net increase in employment.
  3. A youth rate is another driver toward reducing wages in the country – and we already lag far behind Australia.
  4. Employing young people on youth rates certainly won’t mean cheaper “charge out” rates for services (or products)  – employers would simply make a larger profit from lower-paid workers.

Even John Key admitted last August,

While a youth minimum was a factor, the Government didn’t want the public to believe it was the only factor. “Because I think if it’s the only factor someone’s getting employed on, we’re probably getting off on the wrong track here.” Source

It seems obvious that National has no real plan to address our growing youth unemployment. Their reliance on fiddling with youth unemployment is ad hoc tinkering; their plan for a “bene card” is laughable; and their proposed policy to re-introduce youth rates is basically an admission of surrender.

Instead of creating new jobs, National’s plan will simply shift employment from one age group to a younger, cheaper group. It pits one sector of society against another – an all to common tactic in right-wing politics, that values Individualism above Community.

National’s track record on this problem is abundantly clear,

2008: 25,000 unemployed young people

2011: 58,000 unemployed young people

Plus, on top of that, valuable policies designed to train and upskill young people into jobs have been cancelled or suffered funding cutbacks.

The answer is blindingly obvious. We need more jobs – not lower wages for some unemployed. This is not what John Key promised us  in 2008, when he said,

Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, “2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

By National’s own Standards, they have failed to deliver on their promises.

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Additional

Speech by John Key: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Youth rates will not solve youth unemployment

Return of youth wage unlikely – Key

Youth unemployment a growing problem

Nats propose starting-out youth wage

Making young poor won’t help jobless

Editorial: Hiring policy leaves youth vulnerable

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