The political fallout to major changes recommended for NZ's electoral system

An independent panel reviewing New Zealand's electoral system has recommended the voting age is lowered to 16, all prisoners are allowed to vote - no matter their crime or punishment - and more minor parties can get into Parliament by lowering the threshold from 5 percent to 3.5 percent.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi should also be written into our Electoral Act, the panel suggested, and Maori seats should be written into our laws.

Our political donations rules should be overhauled to restrict who can donate to political parties and how much, it said.

The panel also wants a referendum on whether elections should be held every four years instead of every three.

Deborah Hart chaired the panel which says its recommendations would overhaul and future-proof democracy.

"We've been focused on making our electoral system fairer, clearer and more accessible so more people can take part in it," she said. 

That includes for prisoners. The panel recommended allowing all prisoners to vote, not just those serving fewer than three years. It wants the voting age lowered to 16.

It also wants the threshold to enter Parliament to be lowered. It estimates 250,000 votes were wasted in the last election because of the 5 percent rule.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to have a look at our electoral laws and see what's working and see what can be improved," said Hart.

The panel's pitch on how to improve our political financing regime includes capping donations at $30,000 per party per election.

It wants only registered voters able to donate, which it said would rule out foreign influence and cash from businesses and unions.

"What we heard from New Zealanders is they want a contest of ideas, not a contest of cash," said Hart.

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman welcomed the report. 

"It is absolutely time for every political party in the Parliament and Government to commit to implementing them," she said.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins wants to have more discussions about the recommendations before forming a view.

National leader Christopher Luxon was against many of the recommendations. 

"Under 16 we don't support it, extending to prisoners we don't support it."

ACT leader David Seymour also isn't into the ideas.

"It's just a grab bag frankly of Green Party policies that won't make anyone's life better."

Policies the public can give their feedback on until July 17.

Sign up to receive news updates

By entering your email address, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Newshub and its affiliates may use your email address to provide updates/news, ads, and offers. To withdraw your consent or learn more about your rights, see the Privacy Policy.