Equality of suffrage ends in Canterbury

The Herald reports:

A bill allowing Ngāi Tahu to appoint two voting councillors to the Canterbury Regional Council was passed tonight with fractious debate in Parliament about whether it will diminish or enhance democracy and whether other councils will follow suit.

This ends equality of suffrage in Canterbury. All residents get to vote for the elected Councillors but those residents who belong to Ngai Tahu get additional Councillors because of their ancestry.

Tirikatene described the bill, the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu Representation) Amendment Bill was “about the evolution of our treaty partnership and representation of Māori, of iwi at the local government level”.

The next step will be all Councils to have 50% of their representatives appointed by Iwi.

National’s Paul Goldsmith said National would repeal the law if it became the Government because it did not uphold equal voting rights for all New Zealanders and did not provide electoral accountability. 

The most basic part of democracy is being able to vote those in power out. The Government seems allergic to this.

“It is our view on this side of the House that the Treaty of Waitangi does not trump democracy and the country has not decided that,” he said.

Sadly such a view should be uncontroversial, but it seems only one side of politics thinks so.

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