Friday, August 07, 2020

Want a reason to support STV?

As the classic MMP cartoon goes, just look at who is against it. Yesterday, the Hamilton City Council voted to use STV for its next two local body elections. The move was initially opposed by deputy mayor Geoff Taylor. The reason? Because a voting system which provided accurate representation and enabled the election of a diversity of voices around the council table discriminated against and marginalised old white men:

Taylor said while he had no issue with increased diversity around the council table, there was an unpleasant side effect:

“There’s an ugly undercurrent that pops up every so often ... the old while male privilege argument,” the deputy mayor declared. “I’m a white man in my 50s. Don’t presume to know me. You haven’t walked a mile in my shoes. You have no idea of what challenges I have had to overcome to be here or what sacrifices I’ve made. You might be surprised.

“I would urge you not to fall into that trap of glibly marginalising one sector of society. Is that not the one prejudice that we have been trying to get away from?”

Because when you're privileged, raising up other voices looks like "discrimination", I guess.

But people like Geoff Taylor is exactly the problem STV is meant to solve. New Zealand's local government is basicly a gerontocracy, and before the last elections there were more councillors named "John" than there councillors born after 1980. It is unrepresentative and undemocratic. STV will fix that, in the same way that MMP is fixing it on a national level. Hamilton's move is a move towards a better, more equal New Zealand. And if Taylor doesn't like that, voters can judge him on it in 2022.