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Hastings council should reject voting tribal appointees

The Hastings District Council should tomorrow reject a proposal to include voting tribal appointees on its four standing committees, Hobson’s Pledge spokesman Don Brash said today.

The proposal that “appropriately skilled non-elected tangata whenua members of the council’s Maori Joint Committee be appointed, with voting rights, to each of the four standing committees [community development, finance and risk, strategy planning and partnerships, and works and services]” is on the agenda for tomorrow’s full council meeting.

By allowing appointees to vote on standing committees only, the proposal circumvents the requirement of Section 41 of the Local Government Act 2002 that only elected representatives may vote at full council meetings, Dr Brash said.

The proposal also circumvents the requirement for a referendum because a referendum is only required if the proposal is for a Maori ward, he said.

The council’s media release, sent out on Monday, claims the move would boost “Maori participation on all matters facing our community” but does not say that Hastings already has substantial Maori participation by way of its three councillors with Maori ancestry.

In our democracy, those who get to vote on council have put their credentials to the community and by gaining a seat through the electoral process can demonstrate they have the authority to act on behalf of their constituents, Dr Brash said.

The media release gives no indication of the credentials of the proposed appointees, does not say how they were appointed, and does not say what groups they represent, he said.

The council’s justification that the move is OK because other councils are doing it does not wash because the other councils are also subverting democracy by allowing appointees to vote, Dr Brash said.


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