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United Future and Maori representation on local bo

United Future and Maori representation on local bodies

United Future MP, Larry Baldock, says the party does not believe the plans in the Local Government Bill to establish separate Maori wards on local bodies will achieve the goal of improving Maori input at local body level.

Speaking after a Parliamentary select committee had reported the controversial Bill back to Parliament, Mr Baldock said “We believe the process already underway to introduce the STV (Single Transferable Vote) voting system is the best first step to give Maori the opportunity to gain seats upon councils.

“We are concerned about the situation allowing a process of citizen-initiated referenda on two issues, Maori wards and STV, that are intended to accomplish similar objectives. We feel this could lead to unnecessary expense to the ratepayers of New Zealand.

“While there are sufficient numbers of Maori enrolled on the Maori roll to initiate referenda in many local body areas, it is unlikely that a successful referendum result would be achieved in almost all electorates across the country,” he said.

“We are concerned that the debate has the potential to divide communities over Treaty issues and would be detrimental to positive progress being made in addressing Treaty realities in many communities.

“STV offers all New Zealanders an opportunity to seek representation and has been recommended because of the opinion that it is supposed to favour population minorities, thereby allowing real opportunities for Maori to gain election to seats in councils across the nation.

“We believe this should be given an opportunity to be tested for the next two local body elections before opening the door to more complicated procedures of separate Maori seats,” concluded Mr Baldock.

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