INDEPENDENT NEWS

Binding Public Referendum Needed On Maori Seats

Published: Thu 10 May 2001 02:04 PM
David Thornton is a former Member of the North Shore City Council and writer and commentator on local government issues.
'Phone 09 443 5302
Fax 09 443 6771
email thornton@internet .co.nz
Binding Public Referendum Needed On Maori Council Seats
Central Government should not be forcing racially based representation on local and regional councils.
Major changes are being developed on many aspects of local government - changes to election methods, changes to resource management issues, changes to rating legislation, indeed a whole new Local Government Act is now being prepared.
Decisions on all these issues will affect every ratepayer in the country.
Central government does not provide funding for local councils (except for some roading funding which is extracted from motorist).
It is local ratepayers who foot the bills for local councils - mostly out of after-tax income.
Therefore it should be local ratepayers who make final decisions on local issues - including democratic representation.
The principle of 'One Man, One Vote' demands that all votes should be equal - and not qualified on the basis of race, colour, creed or ethnicity. Any proposal to change that principal must be subjected to a binding public referendum.
That is particularly true on the Maori seats issue - especially as Maori already benefit from local rating relief, and income from consultation fees charged under the Resource Management Act (RMA).
Maori cultural concerns largely relate to matters affecting land and the environment. Those concerns are already covered by the requirement under the RMA for local councils to consult Maori on local planning matters. This requirement is being strengthened by amendments to the RMA, currently before Parliament, which demand that local councils give greater weight to Iwi planning documents.
ENDS

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