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Will Nats support Feds' rural feudalism

4 November 2008

Will Nats support Feds' rural feudalism

The Green Party is calling on National to make clear whether they support or oppose proposals from Federated Farmers to set up a rural gerrymander at local government level as proposed today in the Feds' Manifesto.

Federated Farmers Manifesto complains that rural representation in local government has declined because of the Local Electoral Act which 'requires strict adherence to a +/- 10% quota for the number of voters each councillor should represent' (p.23).

Federated Farmers then goes on to say that it wants 'Councils to be given the flexibility to decide representation arrangements'.

"What this means is that the Feds want a system in which Councils can decide to change their voting system so that rural wards have fewer voters than town wards or city wards," says Green Co-Leader Russel Norman.

"This will mean that a majority of councillors can be elected by a minority of voters. This is a kind of feudalism in which some people are more equal than others.

"This is a fundamental attack on the idea that we are all equal and that town voters are worth the same as rural voters. It will entrench undemocratic minority control over regional councils and district councils.

National's Agriculture Spokesman, David Carter, said today that 'the policies and principles laid out in the manifesto largely reflect those in National's 2008 agriculture and biosecurity policies'.

"If this is a principle that is largely in line with National's agriculture policies then watch out, because it means they plan to take away the votes of town and city voters at local body elections".


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