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2. How would people be elected to an upper house?

2. How would people be elected to an upper house?

Answer

As we said in the policy description  document that is beyond the scope of the discussion at this time. But think of the role of the Upper House - it is to provide an independent check on and balance to parliament’s legislative proposals - especially to highlight where the constitution is being breached. It’s like a group of wise elders just ensuring that parliament doesn’t rush through hasty and ill-conceived legislation. A mix of elected and appointed members may well be appropriate, and a number of them that enables the numbers of parliament to be reduced equally even. The formula is to be decided. Perhaps Maori use their own approach to appoint/elect their members and the governments uses a different approach to appoint/elect theirs

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  • Stephen Todd
    commented 2017-02-07 13:25:09 +1300
    I fully support the re-establishment of an upper house of parliament, in which both Māori and non-Māori have identical representation. As to its name, it should certainly not be called the Senate; I like Chris Trotter’s suggestion (back in the 1990s) of Treaty House, but the previous name, the Legislative Council, would be an acceptable alternative.

    Gareth has previously suggested the size of the upper house should be 30. I prefer 40 (which is perfectly reasonable in a country with a House of Representatives comprising 120 members, give or take one or two). By comparison, the Australian houses of parliament comprise 150 members (lower) and 76 members (upper), respectively. (The lower house should, today, have many more members, in my view, but, in this regard, the Australian Constitution is somewhat restrictive – section 24 of that Constitution states that the number of [MPs] “shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.”)

    Given that TOP’s Constitution policy suggests an upper chamber should comprise equal representation between Māori and non-Māori members, I would suggest that 15 non-Māori members is too few to ensure that all reasonably large segments of non-Māori society are fairly represented in such a chamber. The non-Māori members would likely be elected by STV, from 5-seat constituencies (as was proposed in the Senate Bill of 1992(?)). Four such constituencies, rather than three, would afford a greater diversity of representation among the non-Māori electorate.

    I do not support the idea that some non-Māori upper house members should be appointed. We all know how a fully-appointed Legislative Council greatly contributed, over time, to that chamber’s eventual demise in 1950. The concept of appointments leads inevitably to elitism, and, of course, to abuse by successive governments of the day.

    Older heads are not necessarily wiser heads. If TOP’s Constitution policy is aimed at improving our democracy, which clearly it is, then, as a corollary of that, we should trust in the people to choose sensibly between the non-Māori candidates who put themselves forward for election. STV in 5-seat constituencies would greatly facilitate that.

    Māori society, as the other Treaty partner, would, of course, choose / select their upper house members in accordance with their own procedures. I imagine that will include appointed members, but, if some are elected, I would hope that the electoral system used would be multi-seat STV. I would also assume that Māori “society”, for the purpose of electing any Māori members of the upper house, would be those persons comprising the Māori electoral population, as defined in the Electoral Act 1993. In other words, Māori elected members would be elected only by those electors on the Māori electoral roll.

    We all have much to think about.