The Green Party’s call to end referenda on Maori wards once again shows that they distrust voter opinion, Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Casey Costello said today.
Last year, Green MP Marama Davidson’s Local Electoral (Equitable Process for Establishing Maori Wards and Maori Constituencies) Amendment Bill was voted down at its first reading.
That bill would have removed the right of affected citizens to gather the signatures of five percent of voters in their area to demand a poll.
Some of the strongest opposition to that bill was from Maori MPs who advocated strongly for achievement on merit rather than reserved seats, Ms Costello said.
Now the Green Party is calling “the Government”, which it is a part of, to remove this right.
Successive governments have carefully excluded voters from having a say on race-based affirmative action, or even the necessity or desirability of treaty settlements as an effective policy, Ms Costello said.
Decisions on Maori wards is the only Maori issues decision in which the public is allowed a say, and we have noticed that people from all walks of life are keen to have their voices heard on this issue, Ms Costello said.
The Green Party wants to silence this right because they are afraid that the people might back an option that the Green Party disagrees with, Ms Costello said.
The Green Party chooses to ignore the much greater voice for Maori that has been entrenched through the Resource Management Act and already exists on any cultural issues at both central and local government level, Ms Costello said.
Residents of Palmerston North, Manawatu, Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, and Kaikoura will vote from April 27 to May 19 on whether or not councils in their areas should proceed with proposals to set up Maori wards.
If these councils are in touch with their communities, they should have no fear of the coming referenda, Ms Costello said.