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On Wednesday this week, ACT New Zealand released its Party List for the upcoming General Election 2008, with a special press conference at Parliament attended by ACT's top candidates.
Under the MMP electoral system, Party Lists are a very important component of how people are elected to Parliament. Lists must be lodged with the Electoral Commission between three and four weeks before Election Day.
Once lodged, a Party's List remains in place until a new List is submitted for the following election approximately three years later. This is to ensure that, should an MP leave Parliament, the next person on their Party's List has the first choice of whether or not to fill the now vacant seat in Parliament.
It is unfortunate, however, that most Kiwis pay absolutely no - or little - attention to a Party's List when casting their Party vote on Election Day. Many of these voters then complain post-election about who has been elected to Parliament - despite the fact that they themselves voted for a Party without knowing the order of candidates on that Party's List.
Love it or hate it, however, MMP is the system we have. ACT has resolved in its 20-Point Plan (www.roy.org.nz/policy) to support a referendum on whether or not to keep MMP as our voting system.
By the end of this month, the New Zealand public will have seen at least three Party Lists released in quick succession. The National Party underwent its List selection process last weekend - with all current National MPs standing again in 2008 placed in electable positions - ACT released its List on Wednesday, and the Labour Party is scheduled to release its list on August 30. This will be of particular interest because, under current poling, there just aren't enough jobs to go around.
The Green Party got in very early and announced its line-up in May, and other Parties will no doubt be finalising their Lists as we speak.
I'm pleased to say that ACT has attracted candidates of a very high calibre. And the list shows an impressive breadth and depth from a small team. ACT's top 12 candidates are:
1) Rodney Hide - ACT Leader and MP for Epsom
2) Heather Roy - ACT Deputy Leader
3) Sir Roger Douglas - ACT founder and candidate for Hunua
4) John Boscawen - known for campaigning against the Electoral Finance Act, former ACT Epsom candidate, former ACT Boardmember and Treasurer
6) Hilary Calvert - Dunedin lawyer and ACT candidate for Dunedin North
7) Peter Tashkoff - IT specialist, author and ACT candidate for Te Tai Tokerau
8) John Ormond - Hawkes Bay farmer, former ACT Boardmember and Vice President, ACT candidate for Tukituki
9) Colin du Plessis - medical equipment importer and distributor and ACT candidate for Ohariu
10) Shawn Tan - Postgraduate Auckland University student of Singaporean Chinese descent
11) Ron Scott - owner of Private Training Establishment and ACT candidate for Tauranga
12) Aaron Keown - a Christchurch Community Boardmember; ACT's Waimakariri candidate.
At this stage, readers will note, the number five spot on the ACT List is vacant. The fact is that people's work commitments must be taken into account when deciding whether to run as an election candidate - especially in such a high List placing. There is significant interest in who will fill the number five spot.
Phil Goff's Hat
Thanks to those who accepted the challenge in last week's Diary and nominated a hat for Phil Goff to eat following his comments that I'd have to eat my hat when he announced the Skyhawks had been sold ... we're still waiting Minister. All those who participated will shortly be sent a token of our appreciation, and the best of the suggestions are posted on www.roy.org.nz in the comments section of last week's Diary.