Canning discriminatory Rotorua Bill the right move

Labour has predictably started backpedalling on the discriminatory Rotorua District Council Bill but rather than just pressing pause, they need to can the whole thing now, National’s Justice Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill would give the 22,000 Māori roll voters in Rotorua three council seats, the same number as the 56,000 voters on the general roll. Each Māori roll vote would effectively be worth about two-and-a-half votes on the general roll. 

“One of the core principles of our democracy is one person, one vote. That, as New Zealanders, we are all treated the same. Our individual votes have equal power in deciding who governs our country and in decisions affecting our lives.

“This bill would throw out the one person, one vote principle. Labour should scrap it entirely. It is undemocratic and unfair, as indicated by the Attorney-General’s assessment that the bill is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act. 

“Labour should also abandon the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill, which alters voting rights in a different way.

“Under that bill’s provisions, 14 councillors would be elected democratically, then after the election Ngāi Tahu would appoint two more – without even bothering with elections. This is equally inconsistent with our Bill of Rights Act and cannot be justified.

“Equal suffrage is a pillar of our modern democracy and it cannot be thrown away. Labour needs to respect democracy and scrap both bills.”