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More tolerance needed on electorate boundaries

18 September 2001

More tolerance needed on electorate boundaries

The Green Party is calling on the Government to relax the electorate boundary tolerance rules to give the Representation Commission more flexibility as they set about drawing new electorate boundaries for next year's general election, following the release of electorate population statistics yesterday.

The new electorate population quotas announced by the Government Statistician are 54,296 for the North Island, 54,308 for the South Island and 53,099 for the Maori seats. As a result there will be two additional electoral districts - one Maori and one general seat in the North Island.

"The 'plus or minus five per cent' tolerance rule acts like a straight jacket on the Representation Commission. It's a dinosaur of the first past the post era," said Green MP Rod Donald.

"Under MMP the party vote now determines overall seat allocations so there is no need to have such a rigid boundary tolerance.

"The current five per cent tolerance rule means 13 North Island seats and five South Island seats will have to shrink in size while five North Island seats and three South Island seats will need to be enlarged.

"If the tolerance is changed to plus or minus 10 per cent only four North Island seats and one South Island seat would need to shrink and only one North Island seat would have to grow.

"The Representation Commission would then have the flexibility to produce sensible boundaries instead of having to cut communities of interest in half to meet the current requirements.

"The most obvious casualty of the tight tolerance is the West Coast Tasman seat. With only 50,025 people the electorate will have to grow significantly in geographic area to include at least an extra one and a half thousand more people," he said.

"Given how difficult it is for one MP to service this seat now, it is patently ridiculous to make it even larger than it is.

"It is also likely that the Kaikoura seat will have to extend south of the Ashley river which means this electorate will need to stretch from Picton to the northern outskirts of Christchurch," he said.

ENDS


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