Sir Joh would have been proud.
Back in the1970s and 1980s one of New Zealand’s more infamous emigrants, the corrupt and racist Queensland Premier the late Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, held onto power by what became known as the Bjelke-mander under which electorate boundaries were drawn so that rural electorates had about half as many voters as metropolitan ones.
As a result, Bjelke-Petersen was able to retain the State Premiership with as little as 20% of the vote going to his Country (later National) Party.
Now take a look at this table, taken from the Local Government Commission’s proposed ward boundaries for the Supercity:
I live in the Waitakere ward. So the vote of someone who lives in the Rodney ward will be worth 1.42 times my vote. The vote of someone who lives in the Hibiscus-Albany-East Coast Bays ward will be worth 1.32 times my vote. The vote of someone who lives in the Howick-Botany-Pakuranga ward will be worth 1.31 times my vote. The vote of someone who lives in the Frankin ward will be worth 1.28 times my vote.
The structure is clearly screwed to provide greater worth to votes from areas that traditionally vote centre-right than those that traditionally vote centre-left or are more evenly politically balanced.
I don’t blame the Local Government Commission. They were left with little choice given the Government’s legislating that there would be only 20 councillors, that they would all be elected under First Past the Post, and that Rodney and Franklin would have to have one councillor each.
A gerrymander was inevitable. And was no doubt planned because, as Rodney Hide said himself:
…you turn up with your papers … they [Cabinet] are too busy with their own stuff; they’re not bothered…