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Maori Council Seats “Electoral Welfarism”

Legislation guaranteeing Maori councillors in the Bay of Plenty is “electoral welfarism” which will do more harm than good for Maori in the long-term, ACT leader Richard Prebble says.

Mr Prebble said guaranteeing two special places at the Environment Bay of Plenty council table was the easy option.

“The effect will be divisive,” he said.

“I suspect this bill is based on the notion that there are two types of citizenship and the ACT Party says no, there is one. There is one law for all.

“Yes, there are problems with a lack of Maori representation in local government but creating separate Maori seats is not the answer.

“The seats will insult and diminish those they intend to assist because they assume Maori can’t take part in democracy without a crutch. The implication is that Maori are somehow incapable of using the same channels as every other race of people who live in New Zealand.

“The need for special places on the Environment Bay of Plenty board is also difficult to justify as there are already two Maori councillors who gained their seats by conventional methods,” Mr Prebble said.

“Proponents of separate Maori seats on councils hold up that archetype of electoral welfarism – the 130-year-old Maori seats in Parliament – to support their argument. But central government is not a role model and expanding Maori seats merely perpetuates an anachronism.

“Separate Maori representation at the Parliamentary level certainly has not delivered for Maori,” he said.

“The royal commission, which looked at the evidence very carefully, said it did not think that separate ethnic seats had served Maori well. I think the evidence for that is overwhelming.”

ENDS


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