Wairarapa News : November 16th 2011
12 WAIRARAPA NEWS, NOVEMBER 16, 2011 OPINION If it's going to be difficult to get to a polling place on election day because of work, holidays or any other reason, you can vote now. It's easy. To find out how: VOTE NOW IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT ON ELECTION DAY. Visit our website elections.org.nz Freephone 0800 36 76 56 VOTING ECF0038 FROM Page 10 Nor is there any likelihood of immediate relief in the socio- economic burden of student debt that keeps piling up -- partly because suc- cessive governments have found it more important to fund motorways than to invest adequately in tertiary education. Thus far, the only people publicly debating the social impact of income inequality seem to have been the Occupy movement. During recent weeks, their encampments have also become engaged with providing frontline help for some of the victims of inequality: the mentally troubled, the alcoholic, and the homeless. This gulf between the country's problems and the political solutions on offer may go some way towards explaining why so many young people didn't bother to enrol to vote this year. To them, the election campaign may well look like one of the escapist reality shows on television -- where people get voted in and out of Parlia- ment, but with little or no connection to the everyday lives of the viewers. FROM Page 11 I know there are drivers out there who seem as if they unfairly target cyclists, but you may also find there are a lot who toot a warning as they approach, to try and protect themselves from the blatant stupidity they are trying to pass. Please cyclists, two abreast at the most, and if the road narrows, so should your group. Nicole Munro, Longbush Be responsible Mrs Lyttle states clubs are taking a zero tolerance attitude to poor driver behaviour who break the law and compromise cyclists' legal rights to use the road but also that cyclists also need to obey the rules and show consideration to other road users. However, she goes on to place blame of almost getting killed on drivers' aggressive behaviour. Maybe a point she should consider is that these parties are entitled to use public roads along with a host of others including agricultural machinery, pedestrians, horses and in most areas sheep and cattle. My experience is that too often many cyclists do not show consideration to others. Particularly when you have slow moving traffic such as cyclists operating in higher speed areas thus creating a hazard and a danger to all. Cyclists, along with all road users, have a responsibility to minimise the risk of accidents by obeying road rules. Your article appears to imply that Mrs Lyttle promotes court action as a solution. This appears to me that along with her emotive references she will only serve to further increase tension among road users. All road users need to display an attitude of patience and tolerance. Beating other road users up in the Courts will do nothing to promote this. N Everton, Carterton (Abridged) A vote for MMP is a vote for change By PAUL MELSER Somewhat ironically, the anti-MMP lobby calls itself Vote for Change''. A vote in favour of MMP is a vote for change. The current government has promised that if MMP receives a majority vote, the Electoral Commission will conduct a review, looking at potential changes to the way our system works. The system will retain its pro- portional character and its fair- ness but the commission will look at several aspects that could be improved. The first area for possible change is the threshold''. In New Zealand, a party needs to get 5 per cent of all the votes (unless it wins an elector- ate seat) before it gets any rep- resentation. This 5 per cent figure sets quite a high entry threshold compared to other proportional systems. The advantage of a high threshold is that it restricts the number of parties in Parlia- ment. Israel is always given as the example of a country with too many parties. Israel's threshold is 2 per cent. At the moment, 19 parties are represented in their parliament. The disadvantage of a high threshold is that if a party gets less than the threshold -- say 4.9 per cent of the vote, they will not get any representation and those votes will be wasted. The more votes wasted the less democratic and the less rep- resentative the system. In the last New Zealand elec- tion in 2008, NZ First got just over 4 percent of the vote and no MPs. The second area for possible change concerns the way in which our system, unlike most others, allows a party that wins an electorate seat to entirely avoid the threshold. When a party can piggy-back on an electorate seat it encour- ages other parties to manipulate the system by recommending that voters vote for another party in the electorate, as National is doing for ACT in Epsom. In the 2008 election, ACT gained five seats with only 3.65 per cent of the vote because Rod- ney Hide won the Epsom seat. Elections must be seen to be fair. It was unfair that ACT got five seats with fewer votes than New Zealand First. The Royal Commission may consider dropping this electorate seat exception to the threshold and give parties representation in proportion to their votes, irrespective of electorate seats. Another important area of change is in voting for the lists. At the moment, candidates are ranked by their parties. The voter does not have any say in who will get into Parlia- ment from the lists except by voting for the party itself. There are several ways the issues relating to lists could be amended. For example, it might be possible to introduce a system where voters could strike candidates off the list if they didn't like them. Another slightly more com- plex system would be for voters to rank the list candidates of their preferred party 1, 2, 3 etc. Another change to the list arrangement might be to force candidates to be on either the list or to stand in a constituency, but not both. Change for change's sake is no solution. Let's try to improve what we have got rather than go back to the bad old days of gov- ernment by one unfettered party. Getting to grips with the voting procedure Have you had problems understand- ing the referendum voting pro- cedure? There have been several meetings in the Wairarapa explaining the pro- cess, and the options, but you may not have been able to get to them. You may not have seen, or fully understood, the TV ads. Maybe the print on the publicity material you have received in the mail is too small for you to read. South Wairarapa Adult Learning Association (SWALA) is offering some free help. The Adult Learning Association has copies of the Electoral Commission's Referendum on the Voting System'', which anyone can view at SWALA's offices in Featherston and Martinborough. SWALA will play the the DVDs on their training computers. You can watch as many times as you want. SWALA has also prepared big print presentations of essential parts of the mailed material. These explain the voting process, and briefly describe the five choices -- MMP, First-past-the-post, Preferen- tial Voting, Single Transferable Vote, and Supplementary Member. The big print sheets are free, but donations would be welcomed. SWALA would consider opening in the evenings if there was sufficient interest. If you want to register your interest, phone 06 308 8826 for Featherston, or 06 306 9810 for Martinborough. It is not SWALA's intention to advocate for any of the choices avail- able. SWALA exists to help adults to read and write, and to understand content. Voters need to know their options and the voting process. If you, or someone you know, needs help -- ask SWALA. SWALA's Featherston office is at 50 Fitzherbert St, and is open weekdays, 9am till 4pm. SWALA's Martinborough office is at 60 Jellicoe St. It is open weekdays, 9am to 4pm.
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