Mai Chen to Speak on New Migrants And Elections
Mai Chen, Managing Partner of Chen Palmer and Chair of the Superdiversity Centre, will be speaking on the legal and policy implications of superdiversity at the Pathways, Circuits and Crossroads Conference 2015 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington tomorrow. The conference focuses on research on international migration and demographic chance in New Zealand.
Ms Chen will be speaking on the preliminary results from the review of New Zealand’s electoral laws and how they apply to people with limited or no English carried out by the Superdiversity Centre, with the assistance of a grant from the New Zealand Law Foundation.
The research suggests that while New Zealand has made some sensible accommodations to ensure that a lack of English does not prevent people entitled to vote from exercising their democratic rights, more work is needed to arrest the ‘steep and consistent’ decline in our electoral participation rates, and in particular the underrepresentation of Maori, Pasifika and, in particular, new migrants who vote at a lower rate than anybody else.
“Given that Auckland is nearly 50% Maori, Pasifika and Asian already, and the country is projected by Statistics New Zealand to be majority Maori, Pasifika and Asian by 2038, it is vital that our electoral laws are fit for purpose so that all eligible New Zealanders can vote in elections and referenda, and participate in civic life. Effective disenfranchisement not only breeds marginalisation, but it also undermines the New Zealand state’s democratic legitimacy,” said Ms Chen.