The MMP electoral system has forced governments to secure public support for major policy changes or face having them reversed as soon as they lose power, Finance Minister Bill English told chief executives at yesterday's NZ Herald Mood of the Boardroom event.
Ahead of election day referendum on the future of MMP as New Zealand's electoral system, the Mood of the Boardroom survey found 65 per cent of chief executives wanted it scrapped.
Many argued that major reforms that might be in the country's long-term interests could be blocked by coalition partners because they were unpopular.
Asked whether the deals done to form governments were making it difficult to execute a bold long-term plan, Mr English said MMP "is what it is, and we have done a pretty good job of making it work".
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"The important thing isn't so much the electoral system, the lesson of the past in New Zealand is that you have to take the public along because if you don't, they ... shoot you through the head and get the next guy in who undoes it all. That stop-start cycle over the last 20 years has cost us dearly."
That had forced governments to better persuade the public of major policies' merits.
"Insofar as MMP forces you to pay attention to taking the public along with you, then in the long run that may not be a bad thing."
The National Government says it is seeking a mandate from the public for its asset sales programme at the election next weekend. But while National enjoys a huge lead over Labour in the polls, the polls also suggest a majority of the public oppose the plan.
Nevertheless, Mr English believed the public would be receptive or at least compliant towards further major economic reform in the next parliamentary term.