Electoral system review: Ministers give views on proposals to lower voting age, four-year terms

  • 06/06/2023

An independent panel's draft recommendations on how to improve New Zealand's electoral system have been released.

Newshub asked a number of ministers on Tuesday morning what they thought of the proposals, which include lowering the voting age to 16, lowering the threshold to enter Parliament and having a referendum over changing to a four-year parliamentary term.

Most wanted to first hear from the public, with the recommendations out for consultation until July 17. After that, the panel will take on the feedback and provide a final report by November. However, some ministers were also happy to give their personal views on some suggestions.

Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty said his personal view was that a four-year term was a good idea.

"Looking at it from a local government perspective as well, that seems to be view within the sector, it would make sense. But if you're going to have it for local government, you'd need to have it for central government as well. But that is obviously a bit of a process to go through there."

He said the first year of a three-year term is very busy, followed by "consolidation" in the second and then a third year thinking about an election.

"You don't have enough time to do fundamental change. That is what I think people want, time to look at good laws, take your time, get it done."

Defence Minister Andrew Little said he didn't support change to terms without other constitutional change, including more oversights of Parliament and the Executive.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Duncan Webb said he believed 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds have a "voice to be heard" and he believes that all prisoners should have voting rights. 

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking said she supported lowering the voting age as well as giving all prisoners the vote. She said it "seems sensible" to have a campaign donations cap of $30,000.

Revenue Minister David Parker said he did believe in having a four-year parliamentary term.

Housing Minister Megan Woods said: "They have put out their draft recommendations. It was an independent panel that was established to give fair and impartial advice. It would be inappropriate to say anymore, but everyone can have their say until July 17."

"Absolutely inappropriate. There is a process. Like anyone else, I could have my say until July 17."

It was then pointed out to Woods that other ministers have given their view. She was asked if it was inappropriate for them to do so.

"No. But I am taking the view that we set up an independent panel and I am not going to offer any view on that. I think that most people in this House think there needs to be change around a range of things but we set up an independent panel for a reason."

Justice Minister Kiri Allan was also keen to listen to the public's views.

She said the Government's been "hands-off" and has allowed the panel to be independent. But she expects it to become a "political debate".

Watch the full comments above.