Gerrymandering Auckland city

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, November 24th, 2009 - 11 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack - Tags:

democracy-under-attackDue to recovering from a cold over the weekend, I haven’t had time to blog about the super-shitty electoral boundaries released on friday in traditional style. However jarbury has done a great analysis over at the Auckland Transport blog.

If you look at the all-important councillors, the striking thing is the inequities of the voting wards.

Jarbury elucidates the chart.

Probably the most interesting column in this table is the one on the far right which effectively shows the level of ‘unfairness’, or deviation from the idea of everyone having their votes count equally. Some level of discrepancy is to be expected, as the ward boundaries have been generally aligned with the local board boundaries which need to take into account ‘communities of interest’. Plus the legislation required that Rodney and Franklin would have their own wards, with one councilor each.

However, despite this, I really think there’s a problem here. Some discrepancy is not the 24% under-representation that we’ll get in the Mangawhau-Hauraki Ward (which just happens to be where I live, which probably explains part of my annoyance) or the 24% over-representation in Rodney District. This basically means that someone’s vote in Rodney counts almost the same as two votes in my ward.

Most of the inequities are from Rodney Hides flawed legislation that appears to have been designed to ensure that the Local Government Commission would be unable to keep withing their usual 10% variation as Phil Twyford at Red Alert says

Wards like rural Rodney and Franklin, Hibiscus-Albany-East Coast Bays, and Howick-Pakuranga-Botany are all under populated by more than the benchmark 10% meaning each of their votes counts for more than the average.  On the other hand Waitakere, Whau (Avondale-New Lynn), Maungawhau-Hauraki Gulf, and Orakei-Maungakiekie are all over populated, meaning their votes count for less.

What this means is that the vote of a Rodney resident is worth a third more than a central Auckland resident. And a vote in Waitakere is worth almost 3/4 of one Hibiscus-Albany-East Coast Bays vote.

Now this doesn’t necessarily constitute some kind of rort designed to keep the left from fairly winning a majority on the Council. The drawing of the boundaries to reflect communities of interest is arguably as important as the population ratios.

But ensuring everyone’s vote is worth about the same is an issue of fairness and goes to the fundamental democratic principle of one person one vote. That is why the Local Government Act lays down the 10% guideline.

Because of the restrictions laid down by Rodney Hide on the number of wards, what areas got included and excluded, the number of representatives per ward, and the shortage of councilors , it was virtually impossible to draw up an equitable voting system. But of course that appears to be the Hides intent as was noted from the first post in this series.

There was absolutely no way that communities of interest can be formed out of such a small number of councilors. The number of voters that each councilor is going to represent is far higher than for MPs. Because of the restrictions laid down in the legislation and the existing Local Government Act, it was obvious that would happen.

Of course Hides supporters would say that local concerns are meant to be taken up by the local boards. However since it has been signaled that these boards will have no significant powers or staff or budgets to do anything for their local areas this is a meaningless distinction and a distraction from the debate.

Of course this could change when the third bill that establishes their powers is actually passed. But that doesn’t look likely until next year. At present there doesn’t appear to be a good reason for anyone serious about supporting their local communities to actually stand for those positions.

I suspect that Auckland local body voters are going to be highly peeved with these inequities, and this will translate across to the national elections. After all John Key and his government has been so relaxed about Rodney Hides plans, that a considerable blame can be laid directly at his door for putting a gerrymander in place in Auckland.

11 comments on “Gerrymandering Auckland city”

  1. BLiP 1

    For Sale: One city, barely used, many parks and libraries, going cheap. Contact Citizens And ratepayers.

    • Bored 1.1

      You forgot to mention the terms “cut price’ and “fire sale”. Wodders trying to out Prebble Prebble with our silver.

  2. tc 2

    I love the arrogance Wodders continues to display with the ‘I know best, so shut up’ approach, so democratic, consulative and predictable.

    The trick will be to ensure this pile of stench says at JK’s door as he’ll try to shovel it onto ACT…….then watch the handbags fly as Wodger finally awakes from his grandpa snooze to do whatever it is that he does.

  3. Lanthanide 3

    If you accept that Rodney and Franklin should each get their own councillor, doing the maths shows that the average population/councillor should be 58,620, dividing the remaining population gives 22 councillors + the 2 from Rodney and Franklin for a total of 24 councillors.

    24 seems like a nice round number to me, and would only be an extra 20% increase in direct costs over having 20 councillors.

    • lprent 3.1

      Yes and that is the logic that says if you’re going to have a smallish council, then it should be around 25 people. Rodney Hide has never explained his fetish with 20 which has complicated the debate ever since this government effectively rejected the recommendations of the royal commission and put in this jury-rigged gerrymander.

      • Bored 3.1.1

        Wodders fetish with 20 starts with the relative youth of his women compared to his age, maybe he is just stuck on that number.

  4. Rich 4

    It’s all in the plan to elect an ACT council when they only have maybe 6% support in auckland?

    Firstly, Rodney and Franklin are only in the supershitty to provide guaranteed National voting fodder.

    Then they give extra councillors to the right-leaning voters in the outer burbs and take them away from the left-leaning voters in central, south and west Auckland.

    Count the whole thing using FPP, so that if City Vision get 45% in Howick, those votes get thrown away.

    And “elect” a Lord Mayor using the same FPP beauty contest, so that Banks or Holmes can get in on 40% of the votes with the centre-left vote split.

    Joh Bjelke-Petersen would be proud!

  5. Rich 5

    The drawing of the boundaries to reflect communities of interest is arguably as important as the population ratios.

    I’d argue it isn’t – if you don’t have a council elected that represents how people voted, it isn’t democracy.

    FPP intrinsically produces unrepresentative results, *even* if the electorates are of equal sizes. Not doing that makes it worse, and tweaking the electorates to over-represent the bluer rural areas is a pretty obvious gerrymander.

  6. Steve 6

    BLip,
    Parks and Libraries, but does the deal include The Bridge?
    The Bridge could be a money maker. It has paid for itself more than twice.

  7. illuminatedtiger 7

    This is the same shit the Republican Party pulled in the US. Shameful shameful Nats!

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