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Racial roll: wrong answer to the right question

Racial roll: wrong answer to the right question

Wednesday 6th Sep 2000 Ken Shirley Media Release -- Governance & Constitution

Today’s introduction of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill represents a dangerous step in the wrong direction, said Hon Ken Shirley, Deputy Leader of ACT New Zealand.

“I was a strong opponent of apartheid in South Africa and tonight’s events fill me with dread,” he said.

Mr Shirley predicts that the establishment of racially separate rolls for local Government will result in polarisation of accountability and responsibility and will ultimately lead to resentment. It will inevitably promote strident separatist and racially divisive local politics in the Bay of Plenty.

The issue is that proportionally insufficient Maori are elected to public office in the Bay of Plenty. “I agree”, says Mr Shirley, “it is highly desirable that Maori do participate in the democratic process more.”

“The question is – how to get more Maori elected? In the past very few Maori have stood for Council and if you don’t nominate as a candidate in the democratic process, then don’t be surprised if you’re not elected.”

The answer to increased representation for Maori is two-fold.

“First, Maori need to stand. Secondly, we need a more representative electoral system.”

The ACT Party supports proportional representation at a local Government level, and STV in particular lends itself to local Government elections..

“Separate Maori seats at national level are an anachronism and the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform recommended their abolition. Their sound reasoning applies equally at local level”, said Mr Shirley.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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