Election 2023: The Opportunities Party wants to introduce 4-year terms, lower MMP threshold and voting age

Here's what they're proposing.
Here's what they're proposing. Photo credit: Image - Newshub

Four-year terms, lowering the MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) threshold and the voting age are just some of the things The Opportunities Party is proposing in its newly announced Democracy Policy.  

On Wednesday, TOP deputy leader Natalia Albert said Aotearoa's "democracy needs a comprehensive review and reset" and announced the party's Democracy Policy, which would see a raft of changes to Aotearoa's electoral, parliamentary and local governance processes. 

Albert said the policy is designed to improve engagement, trust and transparency in local and central Government, as MMP is "not being used to its full potential". 

"We still vote, debate and campaign like it’s first past the post." 

Rundown of the policy: 

Electoral Reform  

  • Lower the MMP Threshold to 3.5 percent 
  • Introduce caps on political donations.  
  • Strengthen our MMP system through civics education in schools, with a view to lowering the voting age to 16 
  • Shift to a 4-year Parliamentary Term 
  • Introduce more systematically innovative democratic techniques for consultation – both digital and participatory.  

Parliamentary Reform  

  • Introduce an Anti-Corruption Commission 
  • Tighten regulation and transparency of lobbyists 
  • Upgrade the Select Committee system to improve performance 
  • Appoint a Future Generations Commissioner 
  • Reduce the number of sitting weeks for Parliament. 

Local Government 

  • Remove GST on rates and use ‘land value’ only for the rating base 
  • Develop a 30-year National Infrastructure Plan in collaboration with Central Government 
  • Support amalgamation of local and regional councils  
  • Shift to a 4-year Parliamentary term  
  • Shift to Ranked Choice Voting (STV). 

Albert believes the raft of proposed changes will allow New Zealand's democratic process to "better represent and connect with our people".  

The changes include lowering the voting age to 16 and strengthening the MMP system through civic education in schools. A bill to lower the voting age for local elections had its first reading in Parliament last month and is now before the Select Committee. 

TOP would also introduce a set of Parliamentary reforms to "rebuild trust" among Kiwis in central Government "including an Anti-Corruption Commission, tightening of lobbying practice, a redesign of the select committee process and the appointment of a Future Generations Commissioner." 

The policy would also remove GST on rates and use 'land value' "only for the rating base" as well as a shift to a Ranked Choice Voting system. 

"A vibrant democracy needs active participants from across society - voters, media, private and public sector, candidates and politicians all have a role to play. Trust in our leadership and democracy is breaking down, because people and society have changed and the systems designed to connect them to power have not," Albert said. 

"Government needs to stop simply ‘informing’ and start genuinely ‘partnering’ with people, and that requires bold changes to the way we vote and make our voices heard."