The Local Government Commission has done a determination for Rotorua which will see three Maori Ward Councillors elected, but without sacrificing equality of suffrage.
This means that the bill going through Parliament to over-ride the Local Elections Act is no longer needed, unless the aim of the government isn't to ensure there are three Maori Ward Councillors, but to take away equal suffrage from all other residents of rotorua.
The LGC has abolished the at large seats and set up three wards:
- Urban general Ward – 48,410 people elect 6 Councillors – 8,068 population per Cr
- Māori Ward – 21,700 people elect 3 Councillors – 7,233 population per Cr
- Rural General Ward – 7,200 people elect 1 Councillor – 7,200 population per Cr
So the Local Government Commission has set a structure that provides for three Māori Ward Councillors, but retains equality of suffrage. They should be congratulated on a fine decision.
It would now be even more outrageous and unprincipled for Labour and Greens to proceed with an urgent law change to over-ride the law and set wards where people in a general ward have only 39% of the voting power of people in a Maori ward.
The LGC decision provides for three Māori Ward Councillors. It just gets rid of the at large Councillors, and basically provides that only people on the General Roll can vote for the other seven Councillors. This means the fundamental human right of equality of suffrage is retained.
The bill is now obsolete, unless the real purpose of the law change isn't to ensure there are three Māori Ward Councillors, but to take away votes from the rest of the community.
If you have yet to make a submission on the bill, you can do so here. I recommend that you refer to the LGC decision in your submission and how it means that the Select Committee can now recommend the bill not proceed as it is trying to fix a problem that no longer exists.