A new organisation, the Campaign for MMP, was launched today to mobilise public support for MMP leading up to the planned 2011 referendum.
The group says the debate over retaining MMP will be “people power vs big money”. It is already working with groups in several regions and with allied groups including Artists and Musicians for MMP and Women for MMP to represent the wide range of New Zealanders who care about having a fair electoral system.
The National Government is scheduled to release its MMP referendum plans soon. Spokesperson Sandra Grey said MMP is the fairest electoral system and allows everyone’s vote to count. “It would be a tragedy to go back to the days where only a few people in marginal electorates decided elections and the majority of MPs were in safe seats where the election was basically irrelevant,” she said. Although the referendum is not until next year, the organisation has formed now so that it can build wide national networks and to ensure that the National Government provides for a fair referendum.
“It is in the interests of all New Zealanders to ensure the government sets up the referendum in the fairest way possible. This means unbiased questions and legislating the same restrictions on campaign spending as used in other referenda, ensuring that the debate can’t be skewed by the interests with the most money.”
“The anti-MMP campaign is being led by the same people who spent millions of dollars on saturation negative advertising to try to influence the original 1993 MMP referendum. Peter Shirtcliffe and his colleagues refused to say who was funding the anti-MMP campaign that time and it is vital that the coming debate is not similarly dominated by huge amounts of anonymous money. A crucial component of a fair MMP referendum process is having the same spending caps as other referendums (the same as the smacking and other recent referendums).
” The Campaign for MMP brings together people involved in the successful 1993 campaign, when New Zealanders voted in the MMP system, people from organisations that have seen the benefits of MMP (such as women’s and environmental groups) and a range of people new to politics who have grown up appreciating MMP.
“Young New Zealanders, who have grown up with MMP, are the strongest supporters of MMP and they are the ones who will be living with the results of the 2011 referendum for the longest.”
The group has established a website, http://www.campaignformmp.org.nz, as an information resource and a contact point for everyone interested in being part of the campaign. There are already regional groups forming in Auckland, Hamilton, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin.
Dr Sandra Grey is a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University, where her research interests include the role of social movements in a democracy. She is also the Women’s Vice President of the Tertiary Education Union which represents academic and administrative staff at universities and polytechs around New Zealand.