Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Fixing Māori wards

Parliament is back today, and the government is planning to introduce new legislation on Māori wards under urgency. Its not clear at this stage whether this will be all-stages urgency, or simply to get it to select committee (obviously, I'd prefer the latter). So what does it actually say? The bill is online here, and reading it alongside the Local Electoral Act 2001 shows that it:

  • Removes the normal time-limit for the creation of Māori wards (under current law a council would have had to have passed a resolution by last November in order to have them at the next local body elections);
  • Makes any referenda on Māori wards non-binding;
  • Completely removes the ability of racists to force future referenda on Māori representation;
  • Ensures that no referendum can be held on a previous decision to create Māori wards.
In practice this means that councils can make a decision, racists can't veto them, and any scheduled referenda are cancelled. Which is entirely appropriate for something people should never have been voting on in the first place.