Reduce total MPs to 100, cut Maori seats: Seymour

Act leader David Seymour. Photo: ODT files
Reducing the size of New Zealand's Parliament is not a new idea - a referendum at the 1999 general election calling to downsize to 99 MPs won 81.5 per cent support of voters. Photo: ODT files

ACT has unveiled a plan to slash the number of MPs to 100 - and erase the Māori seats.

Leader David Seymour has today unveiled a "Smaller Government Bill" which proposes to cap the number of MPs at 100, restrict the size of Cabinet's executive to 20 and scrap the seven Māori seats.

The current Parliament has 120 MPs.

Seymour also used his speech to attack the Government, singling out Jacinda Ardern as a "show Prime Minister", criticising Finance Minister Grant Robertson as "weak" and calling Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis "totally incompetent" and an "embarrassment".

"The growth in Government over the past two decades has not delivered better outcomes for New Zealand. We need smaller, smarter government", Seymour told party faithful at ACT's annual conference in Auckland this afternoon.

"New Zealand has too many politicians for its size. Our Government costs more and delivers less than it did 20 years ago."

Reducing the size of New Zealand's Parliament is not a new idea - a referendum at the 1999 general election calling to downsize to 99 MPs won 81.5 per cent support of voters. MPs ignored the result.

Seymour also wants to cap the size of the executive at 20, noting that the current Government was "far too big" and had 31 people in roles.

"Almost half of the Government MPs hold a position in the Executive. We have too many pointless ministerial portfolios. They are not improving the lives of New Zealanders and this bill will do away with them."

Seymour also proposed doing away with the seven Māori electorates.

"New Zealand is a modern, diverse democracy. There is simply no longer a place for one group of people to be treated differently under the law," he said.

"We now have 27 Māori MPs, 20 of whom were elected through the general roll. Even without the seven Māori seats, Māori would still be proportionately represented in Parliament.

"Our plan would also require all parliamentary candidates to stand in an electorate, and all elected list MPs would be required to open an office in the electorate in which they stood."

In last year's election ACT received just 13,075 party votes, 0.5 per cent of the vote. Seymour came back to Parliament alone, after winning his Epsom seat.

Since then Seymour's foray in Dancing with the Stars has made him a household name and there is no question of him not contesting Epsom again.

Formed in 1994, under the leadership of Richard Prebble, the party had nine MPs - after the 1999 and 2002 elections.

For the past three elections, it has had only one MP, by dint of winning the Epsom seat in an electoral accommodation with National.

While Seymour has been focused on the euthanasia bill he is sponsoring, the End of Life Choice Bill.

He acknowledged there were opportunity costs working on the bill but it was by no means all he did.

He had led a protest march up Queen St with students affected by the decision to close charter schools and for the past week, he had spent a lot of time on the free speech issue.

Asked to sum up the state of the party, he said: "I think Elton John summed it up well. He said 'I'm still standing'."


No list MPs? Is he suggesting we go back to first past the post?