As a supporter of our campaign against the Government’s law to entrench Māori wards, I thought I’d give you a quick update.

Because the Government is exploiting Parliamentary urgency to pass the law as soon as possible, the window for submissions from the public is now closed.

We got ours in just before the deadline, and you can read it in full here.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Taxpayers’ Union has 60,000 subscribed members and supporters, and we are confident that, given a longer submission period, thousands of our supporters would have produced personalised submissions for the Committee. Limiting the submission period to just two days has the practical effect of silencing these voices, allowing the Government to deny the existence of widespread opposition to this bill. This is wilful neglect of the promise of open and transparent government.
The Bill is not necessary. Māori have already achieved proportional representation at local councils. The 2018 census found 13.7% of adult New Zealanders were Māori and, according to Local Government New Zealand, the proportion elected to local councils in 2018 was 13.5%. This defeats the stated purpose of the Bill.

On Friday (at very short notice!!) I was given the opportunity to submit to MPs on the Māori Affairs select committee.

Submission video

Click here to watch my presentation, or here to watch the question-and-answer session which followed.

As you’ll see, I expressed my personal disappointment with MPs in the Government who have labeled opponents to this bill – i.e. you and me – as ‘racist’. Reasonable minds can differ on these matters, and to cast opponents as evil or ill-motivated does, I believe, democracy a disservice. It takes us down the road of US-style polarisation and name calling, that’s why we called it out.

With Labour going “hard and early” on this bill, I can’t say I’m optimistic that the law will be defeated. Even with the country’s change in COVID alert levels, the Government has made clear that select committees should continue their work via Zoom and not let deadlines slip.

There is, though, a chance it will be amended after its second reading in Parliament – or even returned to select committee for a more comprehensive a fairer consultation process.

So it is vital that we continue to protest this undemocratic law, and send a message to local councils across the country that ratepayers expect to have their say on any changes to local electoral systems.

Thank you again for your support. Louis and the team will continue to keep you updated.

Jordan Williams
Executive Director
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union

Amazingly and disturbingly, the Minister of Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, told councils facing referenda on this subject to ignore the present law. Yes, the rule of law, a fundamental principle in our society, doesn’t matter.  Older readers will remember that (National Party) Prime Minister Robert Muldoon did the same in early 1976 — and was rebuked by the Chief Justice for it.  Here is a piece by Dr Don Brash:

Shortly after the 1975 election, won by the National Party, Rob Muldoon announced that New Zealanders should stop contributing to the compulsory superannuation fund which the previous Labour Government had put in place.  The law still stated that contributions were compulsory.  The Prime Minister didn’t care: he was planning to change the law to scrap the Labour scheme.

But what Muldoon announced was against the law until Parliament was able to change the law, and when he was taken to court on the matter he lost.

I was reminded of that last week.  The Electoral Act 2002 provides that any major change in voting arrangements – such as switching from First Past the Post to Single Transferable Vote, or creating racially-based wards – can be appealed by ratepayers, so that if 5% of ratepayers demand a referendum on the change, a referendum must be held.

Nanaia Mahuta announced last Monday that she doesn’t like the ability of ratepayers to demand a referendum, and intends to change the law.  In the meantime, she simply told the local authorities where ratepayers were demanding a referendum to ignore the current law.

This is outrageous behaviour In the last few months, nine local authorities have voted to create Maori wards, and in all nine districts ratepayers have begun collecting signatures demanding a referendum.  In at least four of those nine – Tauranga, Whangarei, Kaipara and Northland – substantially more than 5% of ratepayers have already signed a petition demanding a referendum.  The Minister has made it clear that she intends to ram a law change through Parliament under urgency, with virtually no time for the public to have a say on the change.

Read the rest