Citizen’s Juries

No Right Turn has a go at National over citizen’s juries.

Last year, when they passed the Electoral Finance Act, the government promised a citizens’ jury to investigate wider issues around electoral administration and political party funding. Now National is opposing that process, [As if they didn’t before! – S1] calling it “part of a grubby deal done between Labour and the Greens over the Electoral Finance Act”. Why am I not surprised?

Now, read that carefully. What does “wider issues around electoral administration and political party funding” mean? Here’s a hint from DPF.

The outcome has been predetermined. Instead of being set up in bipartisan fashion on matters such as the type of electoral system, it has been set up to deliver just one result – increased taxpayer funding of political parties. Labour and the Greens both want that as the outcome, tried to do it through the EFA, and having somewhat failed are now trying to do it again.

DPF continues…

Labour are quite simply corrupt when it comes to electoral law issues, and any process which involves them as Government choosing the expert panel which advises the Citizen’s Jury should be treated as naked self interest. Hell Mike Williams will probably end up as the Chair.

The Greens are little better than Labour in this area. They have absolutely no comitment to a fair process unless it achieves the outcome they want. Look at the Royal Commission on Genetic Engineering? That had it all – independent commissioners, scientific evidence, hearings etc. And the moment it didn’t recommend what the Greens wanted – they attacked it.

Why is I/S not surprised that National oppose a commission setup with the result already pre-determined? I’m not. Labour and the Greens have no right to tinker with electoral law, they’ve already made a compete hash of what they did last time.

Never mind that any properly chosen jury would have a majority of National supporters!

Fisk over the break.

But he continues anyway.

While ordinary voters and their views may seem “grubby” to National’s millionaire leader

Unlike Labour’s Millionaire leader…

and his millionaire funders,

Owen Glen, oh and don’t forget Toll…

we are ultimately what democracy is all about.

“We” meaning left-leaning voters I guess.

The electoral system belongs to us,

Yea, you keep reminding us

not the parties, and certainly not to National’s tiny clique of wealthy backers who think they can buy and sell our government and constitution.

Yes, it’s crazy how National changed electoral law with the explicit stated intention of making it harder for Labour – oh wait!

It follows that the people deciding the shape of that system should be the people, not the politicians. While most of us aren’t experts in electoral law or democratic theory, each of us has an opinion on what we want from our political system:

Agreed. We do all have different ideas.

how much transparency we want,

On things like… donations from Unions?

how much corruption we are prepared to tolerate,

$800,000 dollars worth?

whether we want the rich to be able to buy elections,

or whether we want our politicians to use that as an excuse to override constitutional protections?

and what constitutes a “level playing field”.

(In other words: should the left be given help to overcome it’s inherent failings, or should parties have to depend on members for funding?)

And in a democracy, those should be the only views which matter.

Indeed, it would be great to get politicians out of monkeying with our constitution. In fact, last I checked, a majority of people are going to vote for National, the major party opposed to it. So we’re well on the way.

A citizens’ jury – essentially a public inquiry conducted by a random sample of voters rather than government appointees – is a perfect way of putting those views at the centre of policy. By opposing it, National is saying that they do not think our views should count. And that is not just arrogant, but deeply undemocratic.

Actually, “our views should count” is why National opposed this pre-determined process. Why would anyone support an inquiry of any sort where the outcome is already written, and written to favor the politicians who have already been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, have already changed the law to make their stealing legal, have already changed the system to disadvantage their opponents, sidestepped constitutional protections and conventions designed to guard our democracy, and been found guilty of pretty much every smear they’ve thrown across the floor of Parliament at their opposition.

I say we do let the voters speak. I suggest we do it as soon as humanly possible – in the form of a General Election!


  1. Pingback: The Inquiring Mind
  2. I don’t understand you. How is a citizens jury “predetermining” the outcome? There is no demonstration by either you, McCully or DPF of how the jury is being stacked to produce an outcome, only bold assertions that this is the case. [Outside of the desired outcome being stated explicitly in the Herald? – S1]

    If National wants this to non-partisan, they should endorse juries, and promise to hold one after the election. That way, you can hold one, and there will be no “grubby” interference from the Greens and Labour.

  3. The government promised a citizens’ jury to investigate wider issues around electoral administration and political party funding.

    The appointment of a “citizens’ jury” by Government would be a corrupt Act

    Before there is any suggestion of investigating or altering
    Electoral reform, the past election must have been subject to a Royal Commission of Inquiry. It is Criminal to build with corrupt foundations

    Question: “How much transparency do we want”?
    Answer: Full transparency.

    Question: “How much corruption we are prepared to tolerate?
    Answer: We already tolerate more corruption than any other Western Democracy”.

    Question: “Whether we want the rich to be able to buy elections”?
    Answer:”Anyone in this country can but this election.

    Question: “What constitutes a level playing field”?
    Answer: These do not exist

    Question: “Do we want our politicians to use that as an excuse to override constitutional protections”?
    Answer: They already do.

  4. I’m with George: you’re making assertions without any evidence or argument.

    Your only argument you give against citizen’s juries is that the citizen’s jury is a stitch-up for a pre-determined result. Yet you provide no evidence for this at all. None. You just assert it.

    The citizens juries were foisted on Labour by the Greens in return for Green support. It’s designed to be an open, transparent process where decisions can be made by an unbiased group and to avoid secret back-room deals by those in power to determine how electoral funding should work. Maybe it doesn’t achieve those goals: but certainly you give no reasons why not. Giving no evidence at all you just claim it’s a leftist conspiracy.

    The internet is full of people asserting without evidence that things are (despite all appearance to the contrary) just left- or right- wing conspiracies. It’s a shame to see that you’re one of them.

  5. Thanks for your comments.

    So what part of “The Green Party wants a “citizens’ jury” into taxpayer funding of political parties” do people not understand?

    That’s a pre-determined result, right there. I guess that doesn’t fall into “all evidence”? Hm?

    Personally I think that the actions by Labour and the Greens are evidence enough that they have no interest in good electoral law. Labour in particular has been explicit in their goals of tilting the board their way. It’s well established that Labour and the Greens want state funding, though it’s less widely understood that they’ve tried to introduce this by stealth through the EFA – DPF has done a great service on pointing this out.

    I don’t recall having said that juries were bad, just that this one is. I don’t really like the idea of juries due to the likelihood of getting the wrong mix of people on them, but others do and I can see that it might have value in the right place. I’d tend more towards a panel of experts myself, but that also has it’s downsides.

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