Ex-PMs want voting made compulsory

Former Prime Minister Mike Moore (Getty)
Former Prime Minister Mike Moore (Getty)

Ex-Prime Ministers have called for New Zealand to follow Australia and introduce compulsory voting.

Mike Moore says he believes it's right for our country, which has more and more voters failing to turn up to the polls every year.

He says people have been ground down by politics and false promises, making them cynical.

"It's a difficult age and difficult issues people are facing, countries are facing - so Brexit, Trump, all these unusual things are beginning to happen."

While 2014 saw a slight lift in turnout at the general election, the trend over the last four decades has been downwards. In 1984, 93 percent of voters showed up - in 2011, only 74 percent.   

"People are cynical about politics. They think it's all rubbish and not vote," says Mr Moore.

"I think it's perfectly logical not to vote - but go to the booth and cross them all out."

He admits politicians shoulder some of the blame.

"There's a lot to be cynical about. We politicians tend to promise things we cannot do, people tend to like things that cannot happen, and everyone wants a free lunch."

Another Labour Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, says "democracy is in some sort of crisis". He backs the call for compulsory voting.

"If you are going to live in a democracy which is supposed to be conducted by the people for the people, then the people should have some duties. They should participate and they should vote."

Voter turnout in Australia is about 93 percent - similar to that in New Zealand in the 1980s - despite being compulsory.

Mr Moore was a Labour Prime Minister in 1990, then leader of the Opposition for three years before becoming Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

Sir Geoffrey didn't enjoy being Prime Minister, calling it a "nuisance". He was only in charge for 13 months.