I see Aucklanders have been invited to submit our entries for a new Auckland supercity logo to the Auckland Transition Agency and be in to win a $10,000 prize.
But just like everything else about the supershitty, the decision on the logo has already been made by Rodney Hide.
I’ve managed to get a copy:
David Farrar over at Kiwiblog has replied on the subject of unbalanced supercity wards, accusing critics of simply having a go at Rodney Hide. I shall oblige and leave the minister of local government out of this, and instead focus on the undemocratic shambles that this new supercity plan is building.
Farrar claims that the grossly disproportionate wards are okay, as we need to be able to make exceptions for some cases for rural areas. I actually agree- my issue is not with the fact that there is a ward with a greater than 10% difference from the average of the Supercity. My issue is that eight of the twelve proposed wards (or twelve of the twenty counselors) are within the unacceptable range. By definition, two thirds of a group cannot all be exceptional cases. Even if this arrangement benefited the left, it would clearly be wrong and necessitate urgent reform. It’s not about who’s winning. It’s about the principle that elections ought to be fair, and votes ought to be as equitable as possible for people living in different areas.
With relatively little deviation from areas of interest, it should be possible to smooth out the differences between the wards much more, and allow the two wards Farrar mentions to be truly exceptional outliers that barely graze that 10% margin, instead of crushing it at 24% and 17% deviations. A 24% outlier can’t even be called an exceptional case- it’s the kind of statistic that smells of gerrymandering. Let’s preserve geographic and social boundaries without making a joke out of local elections, shall we?
Isn’t it strange that Rodney Hide represents the electorate with the lowest proportion of Māori in the whole country and the second lowest level of Māori speakers and yet he is opposed to race-based seats? Surely his party wouldn’t have a seat in Parliament if it were not for the existence of seats that did not reflect the demographics of the national population?
While like the rest of the Green Party, I wished the Maori Party the best of luck with their decision to support a National-led government, it probably wouldn’t have been what I would have chosen to do in their place. I have no desire to play a game of “I told you so”, but what I am wondering is this: How exactly does National think it will ever get the Maori Party on side for a future agreement on confidence and supply if it sides with gormless idiots like Rodney Hide on “a matter of principle” like denying an under-represented community their right to be represented how they choose? It’s not as if anyone is calling for Maori to have a more effective vote- (rather, to be able to sign up for voting for candidates that represent them more directly, if they so choose) any ward seats designed to service the Maori community would presumably represent a similar population to other wards. You could perhaps argue that this might set back race relations in the long run by segregating politics, but even that argument ignores the fact that we’re still in a place where Maori politics gets squashed whenever it does not have special seats set aside to enable its development. And the final argument? We shouldn’t do it for Auckland unless we do it everywhere? Fine, let’s be consistent and do it everywhere. That’s not an argument against the prospect at all. (This argument has also been run on protecting assets from privatisation, and is just as wishy-washy there.)
What exactly have National actually given the Maori Party in return for their incredibly patient support of a government that doesn’t seem ideologically inclined to work with them? The most significant thing is obviously the foreshore and seabed review, but that hasn’t exactly paid off yet. Apart from that, there’s really only the opportunity to fly a flag on the harbour bridge. There are business interests funding National that have got better treatment since the election than this coalition partner has.
If National really wants a second term, it would do the right thing for the country and actually start engaging with the Maori Party. It’s not likely that Act is going to represent a significant bloc next term given that they’re polling below the margin of error, so the “redneck vote” that views the idea of Maori deciding to represent themselves as abhorrent will have nowhere else to go. And even if Act do represent a significant bloc next election, can you imagine them withdrawing support from National over local body Maori seats when they support entrenching the parliamentary ones? This whole “debate” is frankly bizarre and doesn’t even have a leg to stand on. Even those Pakeha members of the public who cared enough to submit about Auckland’s supercity generally endorsed the idea of Maori seats. It’s really hard to see who exactly National is siding with if it’s not worried about the precedent of favouring the Maori Party over Act.
I was really confused why the government appears to be putting up such a strong opposition to Māori seats on the yet to be developed Auckland Super Council. Then I realised maybe it is looking at it the wrong way. Perhaps Māori need to sell their case to the government like this:
Traditionally conservative parties around the world have favour gerrymandering. And guaranteed Māori seats can be seen as the classic gerrymander. Guaranteed Māori seats, based on the electoral roll, would take a large chunk of Māori voters out of the general wards/electorates and concentrate them in just two wards/electorates. The result would be all those Labour-leaning Māori roll voters would decide just two seats and the presumably National-leaning remainder of the electorate would get to hold sway over all the other seats.
I should clarify that I genuinely support Māori seats for the super city, should it proceed, as a reflection of our Article Three Treaty commitment. I just can’t see why, from their point of view, right wing politicians aren’t more receptive to the idea as well?
Interesting news this morning that Rodney District Council has officially decided that it doesn’t want to join the Auckland Supercity.
And even more interesting that its Mayor, Penny Webster, is a former ACT MP, so surprising to see her opposing what is Rodney Hide’s baby.
Here’s what I think may have happened:
After Rodney (the Minister) announced the Supercity, Penny Webster asked officials to consult with Rodney about how to respond. She meant them to consult with Rodney (the Minister), but the officials mistakenly thought she meant Rodney (the District).
So the officials went and consulted with Rodney (the District), whose residents were none too happy with the plan by Rodney (the Minister) to take away their local democracy.
So Rodney (the District) voted to oppose the Supercity, and Penny Webster was left with job of announcing it, which no doubt didn’t go down very well with her erstwhile Parliamentary colleague Rodney (the Minister).
Hat Tip: jarbury on frogblog
Here’s the man for the job:
Eight years of experience in wielding absolute power and stomping on democratic rights, and now looking for employment. Rodney Hide just needs to have a chat with his mate Richard Worth, who as Minister of Internal Affairs will surely be able to fast-track the citizenship application in time for the local body elections.