MMP group welcomes referendum plans but says spending caps are essential

The Campaign for MMP has welcomed the government’s decisions on the 2011 MMP referendum, saying they provide impartial referendum questions and, in most respects, a fair process.

Spokesperson Sandra Grey said “the referendum gives the public a chance to affirm MMP and then have a independent process to improve the system. This addresses the concerns of the many people who want to keep MMP but with some improvements.”

However the group is surprised that the government failed to provide a level playing field for campaign spending. She said “all general elections and citizen-initiated referendums (eg smacking) have strict election spending controls to ensure a fair and democratic process. So why are there no spending controls at all for the MMP referendum?”

“We will work to change this during the Select Committee process.”

“Many New Zealanders will remember the 1993 MMP referendum which was distorted by the anti-MMP lobby spending literally millions more on advertising than the pro-MMP lobby, giving the anonymous wealthy donors far more say than an ordinary New Zealander.”

“There are two parts of the referendum process we welcome and applaud. First, it is essential that there are impartial questions. They have done that.”

“Secondly, the Government has decided that a referendum vote in favour of retaining MMP will lead automatically to an independent and public process so that the MMP system can be improved. This is very good news.”

“Referendum voters will have a clear choice: an improved MMP or going back to a First-Past-the-Post-style system.”

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