MP: ‘Labour is attempting to devalue your vote’

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown says every vote counts when it comes to New Zealand’s democracy. Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images
  • By Simeon Brown, MP for Pakuranga

A key plank of New Zealand’s democracy is that every vote counts, and every persons vote counts the same as anyone else’s.

Labour is sadly trying to change this. They previously introduced legislation that would see three seats on the Rotorua District Council reserved exclusively for candidates that only voters on the Māori roll could vote for and three that only those on the general roll can vote for.

With just 22,000 voters enrolled on the Māori roll compared to 56,000 on the general roll, this would mean Māori voters have more than twice as much voting power in Rotorua as non-Māori.

Earlier this year, Labour paused this legislation following overwhelming opposition from around the country, but now they’re seeking to do a similar thing in Canterbury.

Everyone in Canterbury currently has an equal vote, whether on the Māori or general rolls, to elect the fourteen councillors that represent their region on the Regional Council.

But a Bill going through Parliament at present, which Labour helped vote through its second reading, will allow Ngāi Tahu to choose an extra two councillors to sit on the Council without any kind of electoral process or say by local voters.

These types of proposals go against the fairness of our electoral system, and if Labour is willing to support ideas like these where will they stop?

Despite claims to the contrary from the Government and other parties in Parliament, policies like these will only divide New Zealanders and discriminate against non-Māori voters.

Kiwis only need to look around the world to see what happens when citizens don’t have equal voting rights or the ability to hold governments to account.

Accountability at the ballot box is our best defence against bad governance, and the greatest discipline on councillors, as well as Members of Parliament.

National totally opposes any attempt to change our democracy without a proper national discussion, and it is a constitutional disgrace that Labour thinks it appropriate to use its power in this manner.