(National Party media release)

In a strange move Justice Minister Kris Faafoi is commissioning a review of electoral law despite one already taking place with the Justice Select Committee currently undertaking its inquiry into the 2020 general election, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Chris Penk says.

“National sincerely hopes that Mr Faafoi is not seeking to undermine that cross-party process by establishing a separate process in competition to the one being undertaken by the Justice Select Committee.

“Our strong view is that New Zealand’s electoral system belongs to all New Zealanders, not any single political party with a Parliamentary majority. 

“This is why a cross-party Select Committee is already hearing public submissions and considering changes. It’s also why the Electoral Act requires a referendum or 75 per cent support in Parliament before key changes can be made.

“It’s also important that any electoral law review process be genuinely non-partisan.

“It is not good enough for Mr Faafoi to promise mere ‘cross-party engagement and participation’.

“New Zealanders will know that when Labour calls for consultation there’s every chance it will become a box-ticking exercise. The Minister should be promising that there will be no law changes without agreement of the other major parties, not just to consult them.

“If Mr Faafoi is serious about looking at electoral law reform he should not be prescribing what options are off the table before Kiwis have had a chance to have their say. It is unclear why Labour will not allow discussion of areas such as local electoral law and the future of the Māori seats within this review.

“National understands Mr Faafoi is writing to Māori organisations, youth groups, universities and the Law Society to seek nominations for the review panel. Our view is that all Kiwis should be provided an equal opportunity to contribute to the review of the electoral system, as it belongs to them all.

“But Kiwis should not hold their breath for quick results from the Government’s proposed review. Given Mr Faafoi’s track record on immigration policy, hate speech laws and re-structuring public media, he may be planning electoral law changes to take effect in time for the 2035 election.”