“Labour has no choice but to vote against the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill after Attorney General David Parker found the Bill would limit the right to be free from discrimination and cannot be justified under the Bill of Rights Act,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“This Bill was always anti-democratic. It was brought to Parliament as a local bill by former Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey, who is now a list MP, and supported by Labour at first reading.

“The bill was prepared by the Rotorua Lakes Council to allow it to have more Māori seats. Māori make up 28 per cent of voters in the area and the Bill would give them 31 per cent of the vote.

“The assessment by David Parker says: “The conclusion I have reached, that the Bill cannot be justified under s 5 of the Bill of Rights Act, is largely due to the absence of information and analysis available to provide justification for the limit on the right to freedom from discrimination… I have concluded the Bill appears to limit the right to be free from discrimination affirmed in s 19 of the Bill of Rights Act and cannot be justified under s 5 of that Act.”

“All of the good political movements of the past four hundred years have been about ending discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and sexuality to treat each person with the same dignity.

“ACT believes this Bill should now go to the Privileges Committee rather than the Māori Affairs Committee. The Māori Affairs Committee is already expected to refer the bill back before it is due, it is more focused on rushing the bill than scrutinising it.

““Liberal democracy matters. Every adult New Zealander gets one vote. Superficial characteristics like race, sex, sexuality and religion are not relevant to our rights. Being the first in the world to achieve that is New Zealand’s greatest political achievement.

“ACT is appealing to the Government to make openness and inclusion the non-negotiable condition for work on our country’s constitutional future. That starts with voting down this bill.”