Summer barbeques are a great place for generations to mix and share ideas as families gather and relax together. In 2017 the election result challenged many of my generation because of the way MMP seemed to shift the will of the largest group of voters to elect a group of minority parties to become the government. What some people found hard to understand others rejoiced in the proof that MMP worked to allow the voices of many to be heard.

Over a glass of wine and good food the opportunity to talk through why both groups formed their view is revealing. For those who had been raised in the pre MMP climate the notion of first past the post lingers as a way of keeping political control and managing expectations. A vote cast in this way delivers what the party says it will deliver if it gets a majority. On the other hand the MMP supporters see the idea of co-operating and negotiating as key 21C skills which can moderate extremes of policy but allow good ideas to get heard if they can form part of a total government.

Examples of this were the investment in regions and the focus on the environment. MMP supporters were not upset that much of the baseline for decisions on policy was devolved to the Members of Parliament who were elected as a result of their placement on the party list rather than being voted for as the local MP. MMP supporters argued that moving from a competitive model to a collaborative form of government could lead to better outcomes and a more responsive government. They saw the current government as more representative of the skills and attitudes now
required for the workforce. To them negotiation, inclusion, listening and compromise in forming agreements are important skills for our time.

For me the debate confirms the approach that education is now taking in forming young people with skills and attitudes as much as it is giving them a base set of knowledge and skills. The way students collaborate, seek consensus, value team work and inclusive working cultures appears to have given us a generation who have the capacity to unite rather than divide in seeking solutions for world problems like climate change and poverty. Is something working?

Paul Ferris