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Baldock: Council decision proves Maori ward folly

Media Statement For immediate release Thursday, 20 February, 2003

Baldock: Council decision proves Maori ward folly

Gisborne City Council's decision to reject the Maori ward provision in the new Local Government Act is proof of the folly of that part of the Act, United Future's local government spokesman Larry Baldock said today.

"United Future opposed that provision from the start. It was never going to work, and now we are going to see local bodies throughout the country effectively telling the Government just that," Mr Baldock said.

"There has never been a real chance that separate Maori wards could pass through the requirements outlined in the Bill.

"We were concerned that such debates would be divisive and lead to a lot of unhealthy debate within the communities that in the end wouldn't do any good for either Maori or Pakeha," he said.

"Other parts of Local Government Act clearly strengthen Maori participation in decision-making and I believe the way forward for Maori seeking to gain seats on the local councils is through pressing for the acceptance of the STV (single transferable vote) provisions of the Electoral Act which are intended to help minorities gain seats."

Mr Baldock also said the provision would simply aggravate race relations.

"Progress being made in Maori-Pakeha relationships may not survive the kind of nationwide debate community by community that has occurred over the Environment Bay of Plenty separate Maori ward legislation passed in this House two years ago.

Ends.

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