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Auckland ward boundaries a gerrymander


Phil Twyford
Auckland Issues spokesperson

20 November 2009 Media Statement
Auckland ward boundaries a gerrymander

The boundaries proposed by the hamstrung Local Government Commission smack of a gerrymander and will have to be revisited, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“The proposed boundaries released today favour rural and the conservative northern and southern areas of Auckland, while disadvantaging the isthmus and West Auckland.

“For example, the changes would give Rodney residents a third more voting power than a central Auckland resident, which is clearly unjust. And a vote in Waitakere is worth almost 3/4 of one Hibiscus-Albany-East Coast Bays vote.

“Labour will strongly oppose the current structure and is urging all Aucklanders to make submissions in favour of fairer ward boundaries.

“I’m also concerned the proposal for eight two-councillor wards will further disenfranchise some voters, especially in particularly diverse communities.

“In the Orakei/Maungakiekie ward there are extremely wealthy communities and others with entrenched poverty. Labour’s concern is that the voices of the more vulnerable might be shut out of local democracy as a result – and that smaller single-councillor wards would help counter this,” Phil Twyford says.

“The Government’s decision to restrict the number of councillors to 20 for a population of 1.4 million does, of course, lie at the heart of all these representation problems, which is why the Local Government Commission’s job has been impossible.

“Labour has always said wards should reflect communities of interest and this is the case with Rodney. If there was provision for more councillors in the legislation, the commission would have had the flexibility to create fairer, more democratic wards.

“Now people are able to see how large the wards are and how difficult it will be for councillors to ensure they represent the views of such significant communities, this is likely to attract even further concern,” Phil Twyford says.

“We are still waiting for the Government to introduce the third piece of Auckland governance legislation, which will detail the powers of the new local boards.

“Labour remains concerned that these will be toothless and will not enable the boards to fill the significant representation gap created by the decision to establish a too-small Auckland Council.”


ENDS

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