Friday, August 28, 2009

Not enough

According to the Herald this morning, the special select committee examining the government's "Supercity" legislation has decided against at-large election. That's a victory, but there's a catch: instead, they're proposing six urban wards, each the size of one of Auckland's existing cities, and each electing three councillors. As Brian Rudman points out, this is simply the same problem in miniature. Such large wards will not demarcate "communities of interest", and with such large areas and populations, are likely to attract a vast number of candidates - saturating the ballot again and giving an advantage to incumbents and those enjoying name recognition. Meanwhile, the voting system - the old FPP block vote - is one of the most unfair ones possible, giving total dominance to a small plurality.

This system isn't good enough for Palmerston North, let alone for our largest city. Yes, its an improvement on election-at-large, but not much of one. Individual wards would be much better. If multi-member constituencies are retained, then the only fair way to elect people from them is STV.

But its very clear from National's actions over this that they are not interested in fair elections in Auckland. Instead, they seem to think that democracy and proper representation are some form of hazard to economic growth (or at least, growth for the rich, which is the only sort they care about). But even if that were true, government, whether local or national, is about much more than mere economic growth. Most importantly, it is about legitimacy, making decisions that those represented can claim as theirs. And National's scheme simply does not provide that. Instead, its simply a tawdry power grab, an attempt to stack the system from the outset to silence the people and favour the rich. And Aucklanders should not accept it.