Poverty Workshop Calls For Electoral Reform
Poor Peoples Embassy
At a workshop on poverty held earlier this week many of the participants called for electoral reform to correct the power imbalance they saw in the existing way city councillors are selected.
The workshop, to discuss 'Issues and Strategies related to Poverty', was sponsored by the Christchurch City Council in order that 'community development type groups' had a chance to submit ideas to the Council's Taskforce on Poverty.
Various participants of the workshop pointed out that not only are Maori and the Poor under-represented among the 25 elected councillors, that in fact there are no such councillors.
Community boards were also criticised for not being truly representative of their wards. It was thought the middle class was over-represented, especially in the poorer eastern wards.
Some blamed the party system that selects candidates to put up for public election.
(The high cost of the election campaign means that the only successful independent candidates are rich ones. Other hopefuls need to belong to a political party and then survive that party's selection process.)
Although no solutions were finalised in the limited time allowed, there was a strong feeling that a way had to be found to correct the imbalance.
New Zealand's local body elections will be held later this year.
Participants of the workshop came from the voluntary sector as well as local bodies.
At the end of the workshop, the independent facilitator specifically asked that council staff who spoke during the electoral reform discussion section not be identified even in casual.
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