Botany MP advocates electoral reforms to ‘protect democracy’

Jami-Lee Ross (INL Photo)

Auckland, May 20, 2020

We are happy to announce the first policy on Democracy of the Advance NZ Party.

The Party’s membership continues to grow.
Our democracy is precious and must be protected for future generations.
That is why Advance NZ’s Democracy Policy proposes implement significant electoral reforms to protect our democracy, reduce our foreign security risks, and provide greater transparency around electoral funding.
We will increase citizen participation in democratic outcomes, and give the people back the right to veto law changes where Parliament gets it wrong. 
As the large political parties have become more reliant on fundraising from foreign sources, our democracy has been eroded.

The Proposals
The proposals of our Democracy Policy include (a) Electoral Reform to restrict candidacy for Parliament to candidates with a minimum of 10 years citizenship (b) Hold a new Referendum on the MMP electoral system at the 2023 Election (c) Remove the foreign funding loophole by banning all corporate donations, and only allow for donations from people who are eligible to vote (d) Greater funding transparency with all donations over $500 disclosed (e) Reform the Citizens Initiated Referendum Act to make it easier to initiate referendums and make CIR binding with the support of two-thirds of voters (f) Implement Veto Referendums where voters can initiate a referendum to veto a law when Parliament gets it wrong (g) Lower the CIR threshold to initiate a referendum to 5% of eligible voters (h) Require the PM to certify that all ministerial appointments pose no risk to New Zealand’s security; and (i) Establish a Royal Commission to recommend an entrenched written constitution, subject to voter approval.

Citizenship scrutiny
I have seen first hand the corrosive effect foreign influence can have within our democracy.
The Party that I was once involved in put a former spy trainer for a foreign military intelligence agency on the fast track to Parliament.
It was discovered several years later that the MP did not disclose their links to foreign military intelligence when becoming a New Zealand citizen.
It was all quickly swept under the carpet because of that person’s ability to raise large amounts of money for the political party.
Advance NZ’s Democracy Policy would not allow that situation to happen ever again.

Cleansing fundraisers
We will clean up the political fundraising laws that provide foreign entities a wide open door to funnel tainted money into our electoral system.
Constitutional reform is also needed to take some of the power out of the hands of politicians, and genuinely give it back in the people. 
Advance NZ’s membership has grown fast since the first call for membership less than two weeks ago. Within the first week of opening our online membership website at www.advancenz.org.nz we had over 150 people joining.

Building membership
We will spend the next five weeks building membership to be able to register as a political party. We will also continue recruiting candidates and finalising policies ahead of the election. 
Advance NZ has an advantage over other minor parties attempting to establish.
Advance NZ is a new Party with the most realistic chance of gaining election this year.

No political party under MMP has been successful in gaining election without being led by a current or former electorate MP.
“The 5% threshold is usually too high of a bar for new parties to cross.

As an incumbent electorate MP with a strong base in Botany, voters can have confidence that a vote for Advance NZ is not a wasted vote.
I applaud the enthusiasm of parties like TOP, New Conservatives and Sustainable NZ, but the reality is they are walking a well-worn path to electoral failure.
Voters unhappy with the current offering of parties have in Advance NZ a party that stands a higher chance of succeeding.

Jami-Lee Ross is elected member of Parliament from Botany, East Auckland. He recently established ‘Advance NZ,’ a new political party. The full Advance NZ Democracy Policy can be found here.

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