Act leader David Seymour should put his money where his mouth is and support a change to a member's bill already before Parliament on Māori seats and the number of parliamentarians, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says.
Peters was responding today to Seymour unveiling at his party's annual conference at the weekend his 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.
Parliament has 120 MPs.
Seymour said he thought Māori seats were past their use by date and Māori were over-represented in Parliament.
Despite NZ First believing that Parliament should be capped at 100 MPs and agreeing Māori seats should be abolished, Peters said the party would not support anything Seymour put up.
Instead he called for Seymour and National to support an amendment that would include a referendum to a member's bill already before Parliament.
The Electoral Entrenchment of Māori Seats Amendment Bill introduced by Te Tai Tonga MP Reno Tirikatene and pulled from the ballot in May would ensure Māori seats had the same protections as general electorate seats.
Peters believes a referendum should be held to determine whether the seats should be entrenched or abolished.
"There's a bill before Parliament now where a referendum can be added to it and I'd like to know whether Mr Seymour and the National Party would support such an SOP [supplementary order paper], he told the Herald today.
At the last election Peters promised a binding referendum to consider their abolition and on reducing the number of MPs to 100 but the coalition deal with Labour put paid to that.
Peters said the SOP would not need the support of Labour and there was nothing in the
coalition deal on the issue.
"I haven't asked them about Mr Seymour's comments."
Peters said the Māori seats propped Seymour up in the last government and it was hypocritical for him to call for their abolition now.
"He's desperate, he's got no ideas so he decided to pinch New Zealand First policy."
National leader Simon Bridges said National would probably support Seymour's bill at first reading and see if there were ways it could be tweaked.
"Fewer MPs and a smaller executive, especially in light of the fact we've got the largest, most unwieldy executive that we've ever had at the moment, could be a good thing, could increase effectiveness," Bridges said.
But he also said a referendum would probably be necessary for such significant electoral changes, as well as support from 75 per cent of Parliament.
"I can't see this happening any other way than with those things."