Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports:
The Labour Party conference in Christchurch this weekend looks set to approve a remit that will require its list to “fairly represent” gays and lesbians among candidates.
Does Labour think gays and lesbians are under-represented in its caucus?
Four out of 34 Labour MPs are gay or lesbian, which is around 12%. An exact population prevalence is unknown but most studies seems to conclude around 3% to 5% of the population are gay or lesbian. Hence there is no way you can conclude that Labour is under-represented or that gays or lesbians are not fairly represented at present.
At present, the constitution says there shall be no barriers to nominees on the grounds of sexual orientation or marital status. But a remit proposed by the party’s ruling New Zealand Council would require the list-ranking committee to pro-actively ensure that its list fairly represents “sexual orientations”, as well as tangata whenua, gender, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, age and youth.
A general obligation for list ranking to try and ensure a caucus has diversity is a good thing, but when you start listing out every possible demographic it can start to get ridiculous. Why no mention of gingas – the most discriminated minority in New Zealand?
The New Zealand Council is also proposing a Maori-only list ranking committee to rank its Maori candidates for the next election.
Of course. And will the non-Maori candidates be ranked by a non-Maori only list ranking committee?
I would again point out that Labour has seven Maori MPs (well after the by-election they will) out of a caucus of 34. That means over 20% of their caucus are Maori – which is significantly higher than the proportion of Maori in the adult population.
This is not a bad thing – far from it. But it does mean that arguing you need measures to have more Maori candidates ranked highly is misplaced.
Under another remit, Labour’s list-ranking committee decisions will also have to aim for a caucus of at least 45 per cent of women next year and at least 50 per cent in 2017.
I’ve blogged here how this policy would have in the past seen Labour rank Michael Cullen, Jonathan Hunt, David Parker, Shane Jones and Andrew Little in unwinnable slots.
Quotas are very inflexible. This policy, if adopted, means that new candidates who are male will basically have no chance of getting a winnable list spot.