Last fight for Change

By Kathryn Powley

Roger Kerr believed that MMP has been a ball and chain on the economy.
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Roger Kerr believed that MMP has been a ball and chain on the economy. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Roger Kerr didn't give up without a fight. And that's exactly what he planned in his last battle: getting rid of MMP.

The Business Roundtable leader, who succumbed to cancer on Friday, was to have been a major force in the Vote For Change, a group lobbying to get rid of MMP in November's referendum on New Zealand's voting system.

In April, speaking on TV3's The Nation, Kerr told interviewer Sean Plunket: "I think MMP has been a ball and chain on the economy. I think there's plenty of evidence that what proportional systems lead to are weaker governments.

"After all, the Americans imposed MMP on Germany because they didn't want strong governments in Germany.

"What that means is slow decision-making, compromise, much more government spending because parties do trade-offs at the taxpayers' expense. All of these things I think are holding New Zealand back."

And in May he told the National Business Review: "From an economic view it makes it difficult for New Zealand governments to take decisive action."

While he agreed with Vote for Change on getting rid of MMP, he disagreed about what should replace it. Vote for Change endorsed the Supplementary Member system but Kerr backed First-Past-the-Post (FPP).

Yesterday, Vote for Change's spokesman Jordan Williams said when changing from FPP to MMP, New Zealand had gone from "one extreme to the other", and the "sensible middle" was a supplementary member system.

Paying tribute to Kerr, Jordan said his fight with cancer was "brave and his work continued up until very recently. His death is a great loss to New Zealand".

kathryn.powley@hos.co.nz

- Herald on Sunday

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