ACT unveils plan to cut Parliament to 100 MPs

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: The AM Show

ACT has unveiled a plan to cut the number of MPs to 100 and drop the Māori seats.

Leader David Seymour's Smaller Government Bill will also limit the number of ministers to 20.

"The growth in government over the past two decades has not delivered better outcomes for New Zealand. We need smaller, smarter government," Mr Seymour said on Sunday afternoon at the party's AGM in Remuera, Auckland.

"New Zealand has too many politicians for its size."

If the policy sounds familiar, it's because New Zealand First has campaigned on reducing the number of MPs and holding a referendum on the Māori seats for years.

In 2016, Mr Peters even suggested the exact same number of MPs - 100 - was the ideal.

"The fact is we don't need Parliamentarians - 100 would be sufficient, at which time we would have plenty of room."

A non-binding referendum in 1999 to reduce the number of MPs to 99 had 81.5 percent in favour and 18.5 against.

Mr Seymour's Bill wouldn't put the Māori seats to a referendum though; it would get rid of them altogether.

"New Zealand is a modern, diverse democracy. There is simply no longer a place for one group of people to be treated differently under the law.

 "We now have 27 Māori MPs, 20 of whom were elected through the general roll. Even without the seven Māori seats, Māori would still be proportionately represented in Parliament."

List MPs would also be required to stand in an electorate in order to be eligible for election, and if they make it into Parliament, open an office there.

"List MPs serve an important function in our democracy, but they should be required to serve New Zealanders and solve real problems, not just collect a salary and spend their time in a Wellington office," said Mr Seymour.

He took aim at the Green Party's Chloe Swarbrick in particular, saying opening an electorate office "might expose her to the real world". 

David Seymour on Three's Dancing With the Stars.
David Seymour on Three's Dancing With the Stars. Photo credit: MediaWorks

As for the number of ministers, Mr Seymour said the current 31-strong executive is "too big".

"We have too many pointless ministerial portfolios. They are not improving the lives of New Zealanders and this Bill will do away with them."

He said the Minister for Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta, hasn't lifted a finger to help her people, and proposed new roles such as a Minister for Rainbow Issues won't "improve our standards of living".

Labour leaders 'weak', only for 'show'

Mr Seymour used his speech to lambast the current leadership of the Labour Party.

"Today we have a show Prime Minister. Jacinda Ardern is lovely. She is genuinely one of the nicest MPs. We all wish her well with motherhood. But she is a show Prime Minister."

He didn't say who, in his opinion, the real Prime Minister was, saying Mr Peters was "happy to enjoy the baubles of office and drift along".

"The Finance Minister Grant Robertson is weak… Labour's Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis is an embarrassment. He is totally incompetent. Everyone - especially his fellow MPs - knows it."

He accused Cabinet minister Clare Curran of lying and Shane Jones of "attacking business".

The only Labour member he had praise for was former Prime Minister Helen Clark, and only because she'd have sacked "at least three ministers" by now.

With the Government unlikely to take on Mr Seymour's Member's Bill, it will only be debated if it's drawn from the ballot at random.