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'Worried' NZ First behind calls for referendum on lowering MMP threshold, says Simon Bridges

National leader Simon Bridges says the minority parties in the coalition Government, particularly NZ First, are behind calls for a referendum on electoral reform as they are worried about their popularity.

Last night, Justice Minister Andrew Little told Q+A the Government is considering lowering the MMP threshold from five to four per cent as part of referendum on electoral reform, cannabis legalisation and euthanasia.

Justice Minister Andrew Little told TVNZ’s Q+A programme it makes sense to hold the three referendums together. Source: Breakfast

Mr Bridges said the National caucus would discuss the lowering of the MMP threshold, but it was clear to him that Winston Peters and NZ First were behind the calls for the reform.

“I think straight up what you’re seeing here is the minor parties in this government, particularly NZ First, worried about how they poll,” he told Breakfast.

The Opposition leader says bigger and bolder reform is needed to address the housing crisis, calling on the coalition partners to join National in voting for Resource Management Act reform. Source: Breakfast

“The fact they’re not as popular as they were and so they want to see it come down, that’s what’s really going on here.”

Mr Bridges said National had looked into the lowering of the MMP threshold while they were in Government and felt that five per cent was about right.

“My view is, we looked at this in government and we thought four per cent was about right, but I’d kind of say if you’re going to four per cent, that is tinkering actually, four to five per cent,” he said.

“Why not have the courage of your convictions, let’s throw this out there, why not two or three per cent? Actually let’s be genuinely democratic.”

"So, we’re going to discuss it, but I think there’s a whole lot of stuff that Andrew Little and the Government, Jacinda Ardern, haven’t considered and they should before they jump in on this.”

The National Party leader is not in favour of legalising cannabis, and would vote against it in a referendum. Source: Breakfast

Mr Bridges also flagged a concern that holding referendums on cannabis law reform, euthanasia and MMP electoral reform at an election would potentially be too much for people and distracting.

“I think it is something for the Government to think about, whether this many referenda, particularly if they’re doing it at an election, while not saying they’re unimportant, is distracting from the main deal," he said.

"I think those are things they’ll seriously have to think through, that will be a lot to take in for people, they’re all in their way complex issues."

The National leader says the minority parties in the government, particularly NZ First, are worried about their popularity. Source: Breakfast