I wasted my time yesterday making a submission on the Bill that seeks to trample’s over local democracy.
I write to oppose the Local Electoral (Maori Wards and Maori Constituencies) Amendment Bill.
The Bill undermines local and direct democracy and I oppose both the manner in which it is being rushed through urgency and the Bill itself.
- Local body election are nearly two years ago, that’s plenty of time to let the Bill go through the proper democratic process without ramming it through under urgency. .
- Decisions on local government should be made by local people in their own local communities. Aiming to abolish the right of ratepayers to veto decisions by councils to establish Maori wards without a community mandate, as this Bill does is an unprecedented attack on local government democracy.
- The percentage of Maori councillors is very close to the percentage of Maori in New Zealand. They got elected on their merits not race, they don’t need this patronsing legislation. Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta claimed in her media release, “Polls have proven to be an almost insurmountable barrier to councils trying to improve the democratic representation of Maori interests. This process is fundamentally unfair to Maori. Increasing Maori representation is essential to ensuring equity in representation and to provide a Maori voice in local decision making.”That is wrong. A survey carried out by Local Government New Zealand in October 2020, showed the proportion of Maori elected to local authorities is now 13.5 percent. With the 2018 census showing Maori as 13.7 percent of the adult population, there is no under or inequitable representation.
- It is racist to suggest there is a single Maori view on rates, rubbish, and other business that local authorities deal with; and that Maori can only be represented by Maori.
- The argument that no veto applies to any other change of wards is irrelevant. Changes to wards are administrative not political; they do not change the voting system which Bill proposes to do. If however, the minister thinks the difference between changes to general wards and the establishment of Maori wards is the problem then legislation should be ammended to allow petitions to veto ward changes. This would enhance democracy not trample it as this Bill does.
- Parliament should be focusing on the many far more important issues confronting local government and the country.
- This measure was not part of Labour’s election manifesto.
I oppose this Bill because in a democracy the voting system is sacrosanct and needs protecting to prevent those in power from manipulating it. I support local people in local communities making decisions about their local government, not central government running roughshod over the top. I’m not opposed to communities establishing Maori Wards, but the people affected by that decision should have a say in it.
The 78 councils across NZ already have well established obligations, under legislation, to work with Māori and help the Crown comply with its Treaty obligations. They should work out together how best to improve and deepen their relationship.
There is no good reason why this change is so critical and the most pressing priority right now with everything else that is going on in the local government sector.
This Bill is being rammed through under a shameful, arrogant and undemocratic process with no meaningful public consultation.
Why was I wasting my time?
Because the whole process is a sham, only one day was allowed for submissions and they will be ignored.
So why did I bother submitting?
Because the government should be left in no doubt that this process is an affront to democracy and the Bill itself is unnecessary.
This is the second instance Labour has burned its political capital this week.
Neither National’s attempt to pass a vote of no confidence in the Speaker Trevor Mallard nor this Bill and the way it is being rammed through under urgency may matter to anyone but political tragics now.
But political capital is far easily lost than won and burning some of that precious commodity so early in the sitting year provides the Opposition with the opportunity to keep stoking the fire that will, sooner or later, become hot enough for voters to notice and move away.