Newsletter 14

18 May 2014

Maori seats on councils

Well done to those who are sending a very strong message to those mayors and councillors proposing to give iwi voting rights around the council table. Councils have absolutely no mandate to make such a fundamental change to local democracy without first putting the matter to a local referendum. And we believe those councils are side-stepping the democratic process by using a loop-hole in the Local Electoral Act 2001.

Section 19z gives local authorities the right to establish Māori wards or Māori constituencies. Section 19ZB enables electors to challenge that decision by demanding a poll of electors which becomes binding on the local authority (Section 19ZC).

No such provision applies when councils appoint Maori representatives to councils with voting rights, despite the effect being the same as creating a Maori ward.

We believe this has probably arisen because when the law was drafted gaining Maori representation on councils via appointment was not contemplated. It’s time the law was changed. This week our 5PM poll asks:

Do you think the Local Electoral Act 2001 should be amended to include the public’s right to demand a binding poll where a council is proposing to grant voting rights to unelected representatives?

We believe this principle should apply where any council appointee is granted voting rights that have the effect of changing the voting make-up of the elected council. This is a fundamental issue of democracy, not race. It is conceivable, for example, that a pro-farming or pro-business council could stack-the-deck by appointing favoured individuals with voting rights. We think that’s wrong.

To take part in the poll visit the 5PM website 5pm.org.nz and look on the sidebar.

“Untrustworthy, arrogant and shifty”

That’s how respondents to a Stuff poll described David Cunliffe. See article HERE.

Political commentator Bill Ralston has summed it up pretty well when he says, “He [David Cunliffe] always appears to be acting. You know, ‘I’m going to be angry now, I’m going to be funny now, I’m going to be serious’…It’s that inauthenticity that’s the issue. He just is not pitching himself as a normal person.”

Does NZ want a prime minister who many think is untrustworthy, arrogant and shifty? No, and David Cunliffe is not someone the country could be especially proud of to represent them on the global stage but’s that’s a distinct possibility given the quirks of MMP.

Should Labour win, MMP will lose. We think people will refuse to accept the proposition that the party that does not win the most votes becomes the government. That we believe will be enough for voters to firm up their opposition to MMP, but that sentiment is not likely to consolidate into change unless it is back to First Past the Post. Going to some other voting system people are not familiar with is unlikely to gain a clear majority and it will dissipate support between the various alternatives – as we saw in the 2011 referendum on MMP.

NOTA vote

Last week our 5PM poll asked: As a matter of principle, should New Zealand include a NOTA (none of the above) option on its ballot paper?

79% of you said yes, 21% said no.

We have therefore proposed NOTA as a 5PM policy and we are asking supporters to cast their vote in the Polling Booth HERE.

Many of those who said no to the proposition took the view that not voting or invalidating the ballot paper is a better option to show one’s lack of confidence. We disagree. Not voting or invalidating the ballot paper has no effect. It does not even send a clear message to politicians as there are many reasons why people don’t vote or why they invalidate their vote. Politicians will assume voters who don’t vote can’t be bothered doing so – they would never think that it could have anything to do with ‘their’ behaviour.

Having NOTA would have an effect – it would not only send a clear message to politicians, it would also have consequences, in that if NOTA won, the ballot would need to be re-run.

The policy proposition is therefore:

“That NOTA (none of the above) be included as a voting option on ballot papers in local and central government elections, with the effect that should NOTA gain the most votes, the election nominations would be re-opened and another election held.”

The positives and negatives would be:

Positives: It is likely to increase voter participation by providing them with a clear option to express dissatisfaction. A number of countries already include NOTA as a voting option.

Negatives: It is a complication we don’t need. In the event that NOTA wins, another election would need to be held (in practice this is likely to be extremely rare and would only apply to electorate voting rather than the party vote).

Poll comments from last week included:

Many times in the past I have written on the ballot paper that I have no faith in the worthies presenting themselves for office. I am counted as a ‘don’t know’. Well I do know and have always taken umbrage that my protest counts for nothing. – Charles

If you think none of them are any good why should you have to vote for them or any individual candidate you think is not up to your expectations. – Theodorus

If one felt obliged to tick the NOTA box it would be clear that none of the available candidates were acceptable. A bunch of NOTA tags would send a clear message about the candidates as viewed by those voters. – Rob

This would be a good addition and maybe would send the politicians the right message. – Bill

It could be, that as currently there is no NOTA option, that this is why many thousands of citizens do not bother to vote at all. With binding referenda and NOTA together with no MMP, New Zealanders might achieve real democracy after all. – Peter

This is wholly unnecessary. An ‘informal vote’ does precisely the same thing. – Geoffrey

At present, the only way in which the voting public can express their dissatisfaction with the political parties, as a whole, is to abstain from voting. But this automatically fails to indicate the level of dissatisfaction because it is unquantifiable. – Graham

I believe it would go a long way to bring the apathetic voters out and give them a voice. – Peter

It would certainly send a message that we don’t like what we are offered and would be better than not voting at all. – Helen

The various parties would see that there are a large number of people who are disillusioned with what is on offer; they might get a long overdue shock. – Richard

5PM Voting Booth

Today we have added a new policy proposal:

“That a NOTA (none of the above) voting option be included on ballot papers in local and central government elections, with the effect that should NOTA gain the most votes, the election nominations would be re-opened and another election held.”

Many thanks to those who have already voted in our current policy proposals which are:

*Resignation of a Mayor: Should 5PM support the amendment of local government legislation to include the right of citizens to demand a binding referendum to remove their mayor from office?

*Foreign Ownership of Land: Should foreign entities and foreigners (individuals who are neither New Zealand citizens nor permanent residents) be taxed 10% of the value of New Zealand property purchases with the funds raised being offered as low interest loans to NZ resident first home buyers?

Votes may be cast at the Voting Booth on the 5PM website HERE.

General_DebateThe 5PM Facebook Page

Don’t forget that we encourage your comments on the 5PM Facebook page.  We have added a General Debate topic so you can share your view on general issues.

The link to the 5PM Facebook page is HERE.

Please don’t forget to help us spread the message about 5PM!

Regards,
Frank and Muriel Newman

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