Trevor Mallard: Parliament a better place since MMP

Source: Q and A

As Aotearoa commemorates 25 years of MMP, the Speaker of the House has been reflecting on the changes wrought by the introduction of a more representative voting system.

Trevor Mallard told Q+A that when he first entered Parliament it was like a "gentlemen's club."

"It physically worked like it. People smoked in the lobbies, there were drinking schools and card schools that went on. You know, it was not at all unusual for members to be inebriated in the House," said Mallard.

When the move to a mixed member proportional system was first proposed, he was not keen on the idea.

He told 1News political editor Jessica Mutch McKay “I was quite concerned".

"I was opposed to MMP. I thought it would result in sort of the tail wagging the dog and I thought Governments couldn’t do policy.

Speaker Trevor Mallard talks with 1News political editor Jessica Mutch McKay

“Now I look at the Parliament and see a place which looks much more like New Zealand. It's much more representative. Gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation. I think it's a better place. We get better debate. We get more informed opinions though having that representative Parliament.”

While he concedes the tail has sometimes wagged the dog, he argues that you no longer see the “wild swings in policy that you might have got in the past.”

But not all the changes have met with his approval. He laments the shift to MPs turning up to the House, giving their speech, and leaving again.

He also argues the whipping of MPs has increased “I think especially as far as the party’s influence on what people say in Parliament, I think that’s got worse, not better, over time.”