Lloyd Burr: 'Our electoral system is good - it's time to make it even better'


Yet another review into our electoral laws has been initiated by the government. 

It will examine whether the settings and rules we have at the moment are the best for our country. 

It's not the first time a review like this has been done. The last National government did something similar when Judith Collins was Justice Minister.

We'd just had a referendum on MMP and the Electoral Commission made a number of recommendations. 

Those recommendations included lowering the party vote threshold from 5% to 4%. I support this - actually reckon it could be lowered even more, although I say this only for selfish entertainment reasons - because it would mean some bizarre characters would become MPs. 

If there was no threshold at the last election (although parties would need at least 1.2% to get one seat), today's Parliament would have one New Conservative MP, one The Opportunities Party MP and two NZ First MPs. 

It's the House of Representatives and it should represent all of us.

The current review will also look at how political parties are funded. 

At the moment, they are funded by donations and they also get taxpayer-funded broadcasting allocations. 

Donations open parties up to allegations of money-for-law changes or favourable treatment. Should they be funded by the taxpayer? No, in my opinion. If they did, they would need to be entirely transparent - which I don't think parties are capable of doing. 

Are three-year terms too short? Should we have elections every four or five years instead of three? This is another aspect the review is looking at. 

I'm not too fussed. Three years isn't that long to get stuff done. Four years is probably about right but five years is too long. 

As for the voting age - I think they should lower it to 16. We discussed a lot yesterday - but if they can leave school, live alone, have sex, drive, and have to pay tax, then why not. 

Lowering the voting age is not comparable to lowering the booze or gambling age. Those ages are to do with harm. Voting is not harmful. 

I understand we've got to draw the line somewhere - and that line should be at 16. 

Our electoral system is good - it's time to make it even better.