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Race-Based Seats Referendum Before Parliament

Referendum on Race-Based Seats to Come Before Parliament

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today that he is delighted his Racially-Based Electoral Systems Referendum Bill has been selected from the Member's Bill ballot.

"The old-fashioned, patronising Maori seats in Parliament are now clearly an anachronism. I believe New Zealanders should be able to vote in a binding referendum on whether we want to continue having separatist race-based seats, and whether this system should be extended to the Local Government level as Labour proposes.

"The Maori constituencies were introduced as a temporary measure in the 1860s at a time when only property-owning males over 21 had the right to vote. We have come a long way since then. Every review of our electoral system, including the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform, has recommended abolishing the Maori seats.

"The Government has never asked New Zealanders of any ethnicity if they want to live under a segregated system. My sense is that the public do not support racially-based seats at a parliamentary or local body level. Most importantly, my Bill will give every New Zealander the chance to have their say.

"There is no room for separatism in our multi-ethnic society, and the time for the old-fashioned, race-based seats is clearly long gone," Mr Shirley said.

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