Arise, Sir Rodney Bjelke-Petersen

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…

4 thoughts on “Arise, Sir Rodney Bjelke-Petersen

  1. That’s a travesty. It’s not hard to see, looking at that, how you could put together a fairly consistent long term right-wing majority on council with less than half the votes of Aucklanders.

  2. You know, as broken and backwards as American democracy is, even in the USA this sort of idiocy is unconstitutional. The principle of one person one vote* ought to be of extreme importance in electorate and ward-based elections.

    *ie. that electorates or wards are as equitably sized as possible, and well within a 10% differential of the mean in most cases.

  3. Greater Auckland has about 30% of the NZ poulation.As soon as the NACT government rejigged the Auckland amalgamation it was obvious that they intended to provide the Business Round Table with a captive power base. This evidence confirms that intent.

    It also provides a useable precedent to do the same thing in other areas such as Southland where recently several demands have been made for the rural areas to have proportionately more local body councillors than the urban areas.

  4. Pingback: Ward Populations | Kiwiblog

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