Guess who is sitting centre stage of the new campaign to defeat proportional representation?

Vote for Change is the new "grassroots campaign" “for fairness” and “against MMP.” It wants New Zealanders to join their society and help decide what electoral system would be best for New Zealand.

Vote for Change is an incorporated society, with a set of rules you can download from the Companies Office. I read the rules (pdf) to see how well they are putting into practice their high-minded democratic goals for New Zealand.

Vote for Change says it wants New Zealanders to help it decide what electoral system to support. How will that consultation with members work under its rules? It is democratic? Is it fair?

Well, Vote for Change has a Committee that is in charge of absolutely everything between Annual Meetings (more on those shortly). The people on the committee are: (1) Peter Shirtcliffe; (2) Jordan Williams; and (3) nobody else. This committee needs a majority to do anything, which means that Peter Shirtcliffe has personal veto over everything Vote for Change does, including over which electoral system the group will campaign for.

The next Annual Meeting will be held in… wait for it… May 2012. Which is maybe just a little late for any meaningful discussion about the upcoming 2011 referendum.

There are no meetings at all scheduled in the mean time.

If enough members do want to discuss the electoral system at a meeting, however, they can ask for a Special Meeting. But up to 123 days can go by, after the members formally call for a Special Meeting, before the meeting itself. Who decides how long members will have to wait to have their say? And also decides where and when the meeting will be? Peter Shirtcliffe and friend.

In the mean time, Shirtcliffe’s two-person committee can boot out as many members as it does not like, without giving any reason.

So much for “listening to NZ” and “helping us decide.”

This is just another personal Peter Shirtcliffe crusade against proportional representation, tarted up as something else.

Vote for Change is misrepresenting itself. Its initial press release says it is a membership-driven, grassroots campaign. But its’ own rules say different. Not a good start.

Comments (6)

by on June 28, 2011

Jordan Williams, that well known associate of Dr D (for dickhead) Brash. Nasty people.

by Frank Macskasy on June 28, 2011
Frank Macskasy

Oh dear lord...


I guess that - in their 'quest' to ask their membership what alternative system they want to promote - they don't want to have a couple of hundred new members suggesting... MMP!


"Vote for Change" may appear to be a Mickey Mouse & Goofy operation - but I take nothing for granted. I still have vivid memories of the 1993 referendum and the final result.  Shirtcliffe; his Young Nats supporters; and a $1 million nearly bought a referendum result that would've trapped this country under a two-party system for another hundred years.


We have a fight ahead of us...

by on June 28, 2011

They are decidely dodgy; their application does not state their officers and operating with a committee of two is bizarre; according to the Incorporated Society Act

The officers usually consist of a Chairperson, a Secretary and a Treasurer.

The Chairperson convenes meetings of the society and ensures that the rules are followed.

The key role of the Secretary is to keep a register of members, prepare notices for general meetings, keep minutes of all meetings, and keep the official stamp or common seal of the society in safe keeping.

The role of the Treasurer is to keep proper financial records, to bank all money received by the Society; to pay all accounts, to prepare annual accounts, and to file the annual accounts (financial statements) with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies.



by Chris Diack on June 29, 2011
Chris Diack

Actually Rob  Rule 6.2 says the "initial committee" I suspect that there will be more appointees as the VFCC gets underway and grows.  Any real growth depends on whether it catches a public mood and the ability of the committee to attract additional talent to serve on the committee.

To be fair to the VFCC this isn't unusual - most political campaigns start with a small group and if they are successful at catching a mood, they mushroom.

Don't know why you would get your dander up over Peter Shirtcliffe.  I like the fact he puts his money where is mouth is.  New Zealanders are better informed over electoral systems because of his involvement in the issue.  I don't doubt his sincerity and commitment to Country. Because of Peter Shirtcliffe MMP got a much more informed adoption.

Again if one were being fair most of the issues raised by Mr Shirtcliffe need to be addressed by anyone considering broader constitutional arrangements in New Zealand - even if one disagrees with his conclusion on the electoral system itself.

I would have thought the bigger problem with the VFCC is that one cannot advocate change unless one is clear about what one wants.  The critical weakness is that the campaign begs the question: change to what?

Admittedly ones 'what' should not raise more comms issues than whatever one is seeking to boot but one does need something.

Setting aside any public sentiment issues this 'what issue' is a FAIL in political campaigning 101.

For VFCC to run a competition to essentially tell VFCC what electoral system should be supported as an alternative to MMP is novel.  I cannot tell whether the VFCC is trying to be tricky or isn't hugely competent.



by Chris Diack on June 29, 2011
Chris Diack

Had not read Armstrong - makes the same and blindingly obvious point.


by Flat Eric on July 03, 2011
Flat Eric

I too find it hard to criticize people for openly expressing doubts about the present electoral system.  They may be right or they may be wrong but surely this is part of the greater democratic process.  To say they are "nasty" because they happen to think differently suggests that some people would prefer not to debate the issue.  If one is convinced one is right on the subject of electoral systems (and particularly on the merits of MMP), it ought to be possible to convince others without invective.

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