Monday, 8 February 2021

Māori ward urgency chips away at democracy

“The Government’s decision to legislate away democratic rights under urgency does damage far beyond the question of Māori wards,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“If the Government thinks it is important to change how people elect their local councils, it should be prepared to let people have their say. Put another way, if laws are important enough to make, they are important enough to make well.

“People are more likely to respect laws when they’re made properly. Laws are higher quality if they’re made in good time with wide input. Laws are more likely to unite, rather than divide, the community if all voices are heard.

“It's pitiful how little the Government is achieving by this use of urgency. It is bringing forward a change that would have happened at the 2025 council elections to the 2022 council elections. Abusing democratic process for such a small win shows how unimaginative this Government is.

“If it was to go through the proper law making process, it might not make the change. It would have to answer the question that all lawmaking should begin with: ‘what problem are we trying to solve here?’

“So far, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has said the problem to be solved is ‘Increasing Māori representation,’ she says this is essential to ensuring equity in representation.’ Except Māori representation on council is reported at 14 per cent, the same as the proportion of the wider population that identifies as Māori.

“The Government is dividing the community and eroding our democratic institutions. It's doing so to solve a a problem that, if it took the time to ask, it might recognise does not exist. This Government risks shonky lawmaking being its epitaph.”