Tell us why? User comment
We have ticked the “No” circle because we have a suggestion. We think the proposal misses a chance to establish an even-fairer system of representation. Your explanatory material says that you may choose to establish another structure depending on community feedback relating to components of the representation system, so here goes.
To be clear, we support retaining 6 seats for each of the East and West Wards, with the Mayor additionally elected at large. Earlier this year we submitted to Council in favour of establishing Maori ward seats proportionate to population and we support these Maori seats being additional to the current 12 General seats + Mayor.
We appreciate that The Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act 2021 describes a local government Maori Roll solely in terms of the parliamentary Maori Electoral Roll, and that the Act says that only those Maori enrolled on the Maori Electoral Roll can vote in a local government Maori Ward. However, we believe it would be unfair if that precluded these Maori from voting for some General Roll Councillors as well i.e. it would be unfair to be limited to voting for a total of two Councillors. Our point 5, below, summarises this mathematically.
We recommend as follows:
1. A Hamilton City Council comprising 14 Councillors plus the Mayor elected at large, the total proposed by Council.
2. Retaining the East Ward and West Ward system for General voting. People on the parliamentary General Electoral Roll (which Maori can choose to be on) could vote for up to 6 General Councillors in their East General Ward or West General Ward, as they can now (plus the Mayor).
3. Establishing an East Maori Ward and a West Maori Ward, demarcated by the Waikato River, with each Maori Ward having one Maori seat. In our scenario, voters who have chosen to be on the Maori Electoral Roll and are a resident or ratepayer on one side or the other of Kirikiriroa-Hamilton could, in addition, vote for up to five General Councillors on their side of the Waikato River. (We note, in passing, that with two Maori Wards the resulting two dedicated Maori seats out of 14 seats (14.3%) does not fully reflect Kirikiriroa-Hamilton’s 23.7% Maori population, but some Maori-identifying voters will have chosen to be on the parliamentary General Roll. The latter will have voted for up to 6 General Ward candidates who may include some Maori.)
4. Our Wards scenario should not be administratively difficult as, already, in parliamentary elections, a person on one Roll gets two votes: both an Electorate vote and a Party vote. In the parliamentary elections the Returning Officer’s set of ballot papers given to a Maori-identifying voter who lives in, say, Hamilton East and who has chosen to go on the Maori Electoral Roll differs from the set of ballot papers given to their Maori-identifying immediate-neighbour who has chosen to go on the General Roll instead. Computers can be programmed to take account of candidates’ names; a particular candidate is not allowed to be standing in both a Maori Ward and a General Ward.
5. We agree with the recommended increase to 14 Councillors so that, in our scenario, all citizens have the opportunity to vote for 6 out of the 7 places elected on their side of the Waikato River. So, either 1 Maori candidate + 5 General candidates = 6 Councillors, if a voter is on the Maori parliamentary roll, or 0 Maori candidates + 6 General candidates = 6 Councillors, if a voter is on the General parliamentary roll. We suggest you carry out further iwi consultation with this proposition in mind. However, our scenario would not work if the two Maori seats are city-wide.
6. We agree with your decision about, and urge retention of, the East and West Ward system for Kirikiriroa-Hamilton. As a community organisation which has arranged public election meetings for East Ward and Mayoral candidates over many years, we are highly conscious that a typical 24 or so candidates is a large number to be accommodated on a platform (with short speeches and question-time) without the meeting taking all afternoon and evening too. That many candidates are already a challenging number for voters to choose just six. Participatory democracy requires citizens’ engagement. Campaigning is already expensive and off-putting to candidates, and we shouldn’t compound their logistical challenge. We see having an East Maori Ward and a West Maori Ward as being similarly beneficial for Maori Electoral Roll voters, in addition to our points above.
Thanks for this opportunity to comment.