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Restoring ‘one person, one vote’ to local government

Written By: - Date published: 8:53 am, June 9th, 2010 - 107 comments
Categories: community democracy, democratic participation, local government - Tags:

Each person gets the same right to vote, regardless of wealth. We regard that as a fundamental of our democracy. But it’s not true. A hangover from the days when only those with land could vote still exists. It’s called the ratepayer franchise. Most Kiwis only get to vote in the local body elections where they live but a wealthy few get to vote both where they live and where they own other property.

It’s not right, and it means that a number of small communities are losing local control to out of towners whose interests are decidedly different from those of the locals.

I was staying with a mate in a little coastal town last summer and the community was experiencing exactly this problem. The locals have always got by just fine with septic tanks but the holiday home owners find them too much hassle and want a sewer system put in. But everyone will have to carry the cost of a sewer system. At several thousand dollars a year, it’s an expensive and unnecessary luxury for the locals who mostly get by on low incomes. Basically, the out of towners want the community to pay for expensive amenities for their holiday homes, and the ratepayer franchise gives them the voting power to get it.

Similarly, in a lot of coastal towns locals feel the character of the area is being ruined by unsightly development allowed by councils that are beholden to holiday home owners due, in part, to the ratepayer franchise (this excellent piece of journalism, 27 minutes long, on RNZ a few weeks ago about coastal development was what got me thinking about the issue of the ratepayer franchise, not Celia Wade-Brown’s misdirected criticism the other day).

OK. The number of ratepayer voters isn’t huge- 5,500 – but that’s half the point. This is a special vote for those wealthy enough to own land in one constituency and live somewhere else. And in some specific constituencies they have a major impact. As the Local Elections Statistics 2007 report notes:

“Ratepayer electors comprised less than one percent of all electors for all types of elected bodies in 2007. However, in some areas, ratepayer electors comprise more than 10% of electors. For example, almost 18% of electors for the Akaroa-Wairewa Community Board were ratepayer electors. Ratepayer electors can comprise a relatively large amount of all electors in some wards, constituencies or boards, particularly in small district councils with relatively large numbers of holiday homes.”

In the Thames-Coromandel District Council election 11% of votes were cast by people who didn’t live in the district. In specific locales, it’s even higher.

In the Great Barrier Community Board election 11% of voters were out of towners. Kawhia Community Board 12%, Mercury Bay Community Board 16%, Whangamata Community Board 16%, Stewart Island Community Board 16%, Tekapo Community Board 18%. In the Tairua-Pauanui Community Board election a whooping 22% of voters didn’t live locally.

People should be allowed to vote in the local body elections for where they live. They shouldn’t be allowed to double dip just because they’re rich. That’s not fair.

One person, one vote – that’s democracy.

And I assume this thinking way behind the decision to abolish the ratepayer franchise in 1986. Unfortunately, it was restored in 1991.

My challenge is for an MP to stand up for the local communities who are having their local decisions subverted by out of towners who aren’t interested in the year-round community, only the summer amenities.

A private member’s bill could be put forward abolishing the ratepayer’s franchise and restoring the principle of one person, one vote. It would make sense for Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie to take it on because it is communities in her electorate that are most affected. But any MP could take on the job. Any takers?

107 comments on “Restoring ‘one person, one vote’ to local government ”

  1. Rates and ratepayers are a relic of feudalism and should be abolished, replaced with a transfer of a block grant from Central Government consisting of a portion of locally collected income tax and locally collected GST from all residents (and tourist visitors)

  2. Bright Red 2

    I don’t see any justification for this holiday home owner’s vote. If you want to buy a holiday home somewhere, fine, but that doesn’t give you an equal say over that community as a local who lives there year round.

    • Anita 2.1

      Are you going to make the same argument to disenfranchise NZ citizens currently living outside NZ?

      • smokie 2.1.1

        Ummm… NZers living outside the country only have one vote. If you own 10 holiday homes across 10 different areas you have ten votes.

        Time to get rid of this bloody feudalism.

        • Anita

          New Zealanders living outside New Zealand may get two votes, one in the NZ general elections and one in the elections of their country of residence.

          How is this different?

          • Ari

            This is different because they are not citizens of the areas where their holiday homes reside, while they are citizens of New Zealand despite their expatriation.

            Frankly, I’m fine with someone wanting to vote for the local elections where their holiday homes reside, so long as it’s because they’ve transferred their vote to that authority. But this is nothing like analogous with the overseas special vote.

            • Anita

              If we are ok with someone voting about NZ things in the NZ elections and Aussie things in the Aussie elections, then what is wrong with someone voting about Wellington things in the Wellington elections and Nelson things in the Nelson elections?

              • snoozer

                anita. how about sticking to the topic. Do you support a person getting multiple votes because they own properties in multiple councils which they are not resient in (or even necessarily visit)

                • Anita

                  I think there are problems with the ratepayer roll (but I’m not sure how to solve them all).

                  My comment was in response to Bright Red’s comment – which seems like pretty woolly thinking and would, if taken to its logical conclusion, disenfranchise a whole bunch of current NZ voters. It also illustrates the fact that simply abolishing the ratepayer roll actually has some negative consequences. It also illustrates that “one person one vote” is actually complete bollocks as it stands for good reasons 🙂

                  This is not a simple problem, we allow people to vote in more than one country for a reason, the same logic applies to multiple TLAs and RCs.

              • Carol

                Actually, I’m not so OK with that, just as I don’t think people should vote for 2 local councils. I have frequently been able to vote in both the UK & NZ elections. However, I’ve always opted to vote only in the country I have been living in. This seems fairer to me.

      • Bright Red 2.1.2

        that’s a surprisingly silly comment for you, Anita.

        NZ residents not currently living in NZ get to vote as long as they meet the residency requirements (lived in NZ less than three years ago, I think).

        That’s nothing like the situation where someone is allowed to vote not only in the place where they meet the residency rules but anywhere else they own land, whether or not they even visit, let alone live there.

        • Bunji

          NZ residents who have visited New Zealand in the last 3 years get a vote. I wouldn’t have got to help Helen back in in 2005 otherwise.

          captcha: subtle

        • Anita

          Visited NZ in the last three years, it is very similar.

          A NZ citizen who has been living (and voting) in the UK for the last 50 years may vote in NZ if they pop back every couple of years to visit family.

          • Puddleglum

            I don’t think the analogy holds, Anita, for a couple of reasons.

            First, nation states are very particular political and institutional forms – they monopolise coercive force, for example. They have obligations to always accept their citizens (even if just to put them in prison immediately). They can withhold entry to non-citizens. Local authorities in New Zealand have no such powers or obligations (they are not like autonomous regions in other countries, for example).

            Second, non-resident citizens can vote in New Zealand even if they don’t own property in New Zealand. It is a citizenship right and is not in any way connected with ownership rights.

            A better analogy would be if people who were neither NZ citizens nor NZ permanent residents but who owned land in New Zealand (or even some other more abstract assets such as shares in NZ companies) could therefore vote in NZ elections. I don’t think that’s the case – and many people would be disturbed if it were.

  3. Brett 3

    So anyone who owns a bach is a rich prick?
    Who ever is in charge of Labours strategy should be taken out the back and shot.

    • smokie 3.1

      I think Brett, that anyone that owns a bach shouldn’t have twice the voting power of someone that doesn’t. Or are you righties thinking of harking back to Pinochet?

      • Brett 3.1.1

        I am neither a “rightie” or a “leftie.”
        Labels are for the sheeple.
        On a side note is the disproportionate amount of English Unionist immigrants within Labour the reason behind this whole rich prick marketing campaign?

        • Bunji

          Sheeple. I love that cartoon.

        • Mac1

          Brett, I could ask for a citation for that assertion of disproportionality. 🙂

          However, I hugely suspect you are right that more immigrant union members from England are supporters of Labour than are not.

          What is not so evident to me is a “rich prick marketing campaign” that you allege. Rather, I feel there is a campaign from the NACT government to shelter behind accusations of envy to attempt to get some sort of moral superiority.

          What is not so evident to me is that these ‘English Unionist immigrants” could be responsible for this not so evident campaign.

          What is evident to me is that your question is in itself evidence of ‘sheepleness”.

          Your analogy of ‘sheeple” actually triggers with me the thought that the history of sheep is an analogy within itself of the role of apologists for the Right.

          In that history there are sheep, shepherds, owners, land clearance landlords, bailiffs and the dispossessed poor. The role of apologist seems to be analogous to the bailiff working on behalf of the laird and earning the scorn of both laird and the dispossessed.

        • snoozer

          Brett. You’re right.

          In fact, pretty much any time someone says they’re neitehr left nor right they are right.

      • comedy 3.1.2

        How do people with a bach have twice the voting power of someone who doesn’t ? ……. assuming the bach isn’t in the same council area.

        • snoozer

          not much of a holiday home if it’s in the same community board area. And it’s not refering to people who own property in the same areas.

          • comedy

            Yes……….. so if that’s the case how do they have twice the voting power ?

            • snoozer

              comedy. You’re making a laughingstock of yourself. here’s an example to help you understand:

              Person 1, let’s call them Sir Richard Prick, owns 10 properties all within the Tawa Community Board in Wellington.

              Person 2, let’s call them Average Joe Good Joker the Third, owns 10 properties of the same size and value as Sir Richard’s but each is in a different regional council, DHB, TA, and community board.

              Average Joe Good Joker III gets 10 votes whereas Sir Richard Prick gets one.

              Sound fair?

              • Sound fair? No. It also cannot happen. There are no ratepayer electors in DHB elections.

                captcha: lying

                • snoozer

                  What about the rest then Edgeler? Is it fair if Average Joe gets 10 times votes fro district councils and community boards?

              • comedy

                Snoozer – the point I was attempting to make is as per youamretarded below.

                Restoring ‘one person, one vote’ to local government

                Seems a fair position to take .. to my way of thinking anyway.

                • snoozer

                  youam doesn’t actually make an argument, they just say ‘it’s fair that Average Joe gets 10 votes and Sir richard gets one’.

                  They don’t say why they think it’s fair. Probably because they don’t have anything to back up their position.

                  • comedy

                    Um they say

                    “I can easily accept that someone has the right to a vote in their usual place of residence as well as where they have a holiday home (a single vote in relation to areas/issues in which they have an interest)

                    However I can see no reason why anyone with multiple properties within a single jursidiction should be given multiple votes.”

                    You may note they specifically say “I can see no reason why anyone with multiple properties within a single jursidiction should be given multiple votes.”

    • snoozer 3.2

      I don’t see anyone calling anyone a rich prick, Brett. Bit over-sensitive I think.

      And I’m not sure what this has to do with Labour. I don’t see them mentioned in the post.

      Now, tell us, do you think it’s fair enough that someone gets mutliple votes jsut because they own land spread among voting areas?

      here’s an example that occurs to me:

      Person 1, let’s call them Sir Richard Prick, owns 10 properties all within the Tawa Community Board in Wellington.

      Person 2, let’s call them Average Joe Good Joker the Third, owns 10 properties of the same size and value as Sir Richard’s but each is in a different regional council, DHB, TA, and community board.

      Average Joe Good Joker III gets 10 votes whereas Sir Richard Prick gets one.

      Sound fair?

      • yousamretarded 3.2.1

        Your example is poor in relation to the post by Eddie but a good point in relation to multiple votes within a single jurisdiction (council area).

        I can easily accept that someone has the right to a vote in their usual place of residence as well as where they have a holiday home (a single vote in relation to areas/issues in which they have an interest)

        However I can see no reason why anyone with multiple properties within a single jursidiction should be given multiple votes.

        [fine comment but your handle is in poor taste – consider a change? — r0b]

  4. Name 4

    This argument is as silly as suggesting that because I have two children in two different schools I should only be able to stand for the BoT, or vote as a Trustee at one of them.

    Or, put another way, what about the old cry of our rebellious American friends, “No taxation without representation”? Local body rates are a tax which is spent largely on councillor’s perks and overpaid, underworked local authority workers, but the little that actually goes back to the community is spent on matters affecting property ownership – roads, rubbish and rats, as it were – so any property owner footing the bill is entitled to a say in where the money goes.

    I quite agree that rates as a concept should be abolished, along with local authorities which are the most inefficient, wasteful and inept organisations with their mouths at the public teat, but while rates are levied everyone who pays them should be entitled to a vote as to their misuse.

    • Bright Red 4.1

      It’s not like that at all. You live in one place, you get to vote in those local elections. You own property in another place that you visit a couple of times a year – or maybe don’t visit at all, it could be a rental property and you get two votes. Not fair. You’re not a local, so why do you get to vote in local elections with exactly the same voting rights as a local?

      • vto 4.1.1

        Bright Red, you clearly have an itch to scratch on this one. But what about if you visit your bach more than twice a year? Say once a month? Or what about if you spend say a third of your year there and become enmeshed in the local community in all the usual fashions? Yet your main abode is elsewhere? This is our situation. I would be most upset if we could not vote in that other region.

        Kind of makes your argument a bit useless.

        • Puddleglum

          vto, you’re arguing for a residency criterion not a property owning one and, obviously, that has to be part of it (e.g., even ‘full time’ people in a rating district will occasionally move outside that district for holidays, to visit family, business, health needs, etc. yet I don’t think anyone would argue that they should therefore lose their right to vote where they normally live.).

          But, I also disagree that voting should be decided on periods of residency alone – I think a decision has to be made as to where a single vote is made. Imagine the case of someone who spends an equal one week a year in 52 different voting areas and then expects 52 votes (you could even devise a very influential political activist movement to do that and take full advantage). They could argue that they spend equal amounts of time in each area so they should have a right to a single vote in each. But, it would be just as meaningful to argue that, actually, in each place they should only have 1/52nd of a vote.

          The point isn’t that full time residency is required to vote, it’s that simply owning property in a local council area should not deliver that right – and nor should multiple residency. Instead, people should actually have to think through and choose where they are most committed to and vote there (i.e., where their ‘home’ is – in the same way Bill English needs to specify where his ‘home’ actually is).

          BTW, the rating argument is a red herring (not that you use it). Apart from the fact that the ‘no taxation without representation’ slogan is one of the most insipid revolutionary catch-cries ever, rates could equally be seen as a property value (i.e., asset value) maintenance charge similar to shareholders having to pay for directors (at least indirectly through reduced dividends). Alternatively, it could be seen as a service charge that adds value to a property (via connecting a property to locally funded infrastructure built up over generations).

      • Sideoiler 4.1.2

        You get to vote because you have to pay.
        Maybe rates should be abolished and a poll tax could be levied instead, that way those who rent a property and pay no rates will be paying their fair share for libraries parks public art etc,or if you are not resident in the property then you are rates exempt, and have no vote.

        • Anita

          If you rent a property then you pay rent and your landlord pays the rates out of the rent. Thus you do, in effect, pay rates.

  5. burt 5

    As long as the proxy for rates (tax) is the property and not the person then this is what you get. Perhaps you would support a poll tax for collection of rates? You can’t have it all ways you know…

    • snoozer 5.1

      The world didn’t end when the ratepayer vote was abolished in the 80s.

      And are you saying that people who don’t own property shouldn’t be allowed to vote in local elections, like in the bad old days?

      It seems to me that to be logically consistant you need to support a ratepayer only franchise.

      It should either be one person, one vote or only ratepayers vote. I know which one I think is fair.

    • burt 5.2

      What is not fair is basing the rates on the value of the house rather than the number of occupants in it. But I guess Eddie will be consistent and be calling for a poll tax to remove this anomaly as part of restoring “one-person-one-vote”.

      • Ari 5.2.1

        Why is it unfair? We base taxes on income or consumption, rather than levying a flat tax on each person. Same principle, really, and the best objection is that property is the wrong basis for rates.

        • burt

          Why is it unfair? We base taxes on income or consumption, rather than levying a flat tax on each person. Same principle, really, and the best objection is that property is the wrong basis for rates.

          Rates are nothing like income or consumption tax, the value of a house has no direct connection to income or consumption. The old guy who had lived in the main street of Queenstown for 50 years while the town exploded around him forcing his rates through the roof and driving him out of town what connection to income or consumption did that have ? Rates are about providing income to local govt to deliver services to residents. Provision of roads, sewerage, water, street lighting, parks and other facilities etc. Everyone shits roughly the same amount but if you live in a $1m house taking a dump costs you a lot more than if you are one of 10 people sharing a $250K house.

          The use of property values as a proxy for who can afford to pay is just a convenient way to administer the tax. It’s a classic case of plucking the goose with the least amount of hissing which may be the method power hungry socialists like because they thrive on bashing the rich (policies of envy) but that isn’t the same thing as being fair.

          The only thing similar about rates and income taxes is that some people pay a hell of a lot more than they will ever consume and others get a free ride on their backs. If you want to say that rates are no more and no less equitable than income tax because of that then I’ll agree that in there are similar principles regarding inequities.

          • Bunji

            The value of a property does have a direct correlation to wealth, and hence ability to pay however. Income taxes affect those who are earning, whilst those who sit on wealth can avoid paying anything. I personally favour some tax on wealth – it helps balance the huge wealth transfer from the young to the old, that’s happening through increased house prices and the lack of provision for old-age pensions.

            The council services you mention: provision of roads, sewerage, water, street lighting, as well as rubbish collection are all per property, rather than per person, so it makes a lot of sense to charge per property. If it encourages more people to live in one household, well that’d be great as it’s more efficient economically and ecologically.

            You could argue for a flat tax on property in the same way as some argue for a flat tax on income, it depends on your idea of ‘fairness’. Personally I think those who can afford to pay more, should; it’ll be to their benefit as well.

            • burt

              If you think encouraging large numbers of low earners to cram into low value housing is a positive consequence of having rates based on property values then I’ll need to disagree with you.

      • comedy 5.2.2

        nah we base rates on the perceived value of the property which is largely made up of the perceived value of the land.

        It’s a crap system and I’d be interested in hearing of other options that people have experience with locally and overseas.

      • toad 5.2.3

        Thatcher’s Poll Tax went down real well with the British public, didn’t it Burt.

        • burt

          I never said it would be popular with people who are paying for less than they consume.

      • felix 5.2.4

        I agree burt, basing rates on property value is bollocks. The “value” of a property is such a fluid, transient, esoteric thing to measure and is often completely beyond the control of the owner.

        The example you give of the person who sits quietly in their humble home while the town around them becomes fashionable and “develops” until they can’t afford their rates bill is one I’ve seen many times.

  6. William 6

    Name wrote about “No taxation without representation”. The ratepayer franchise doesn’t only apply to individuals owning property, but also to companies.
    The logical conclusion to your argument is that every overseas owned company that pays tax in NZ should be allowed a vote in general elections! No thanks, but good luck with convincing everyone that’s a good idea.

  7. uke 7

    So if you’re a household of locals you each get a vote (over 18).

    With a holiday-home, is it only one vote?

    But what if there’s several owners, like with joint ownership or a time-share arrangement? Do they all get votes?

  8. Rob 8

    I fail to see how you can make such a bold assertion because the rights are simply not clear.

    The fact is the largest community you found with out of town votes was 22%. That means taking your sewage system example that a further 28% is needed from locals who support a sewage system. These people are being denied the right to have one by the other locals who beat them in a standard vote. It seems anomalous to me that when over the course of a year more people who are there will at some point want a sewage system than those who do not that they should not have one.

    Now you have a point if these holiday voters were a majority in any community and their will is overbearing locals but if they make up at most a 5th of the community then this simply isn’t true. What they are in fact ensuring is that they have a democratic stake in the community they also are a part of for some of the year.

    I have no problem with excluding property owner votes in favour of say property owner + must have been in the community for more than say a month in the last year. However it seems very undemocratic to me to deny a vote to someone who lives in a community but is not there the entire time.

    My Aunt who lives over in the UK is not especially wealthy she and her husband have both at times been on the invalids benefit and only come off it from time to time because they have managed to find a way to work around their illnesses that would have made most people unable to work full stop. They through saving for their entire lives have been fortunate enough to buy one run down house in France and one in England. They spend probably about 8 months of the year in England and the rest in France which is better for their health. It would seem incredibly odd to me seeing how much they are involved in their community in France if they were not entitled to a say in it at all for the time they live there. This is in fact what you are proposing.

    This is very different to a person being able to vote in multiple electorates in a general election. They are only voting for the right to be represented at a local level in all the areas they live in. Some they may not live in for the majority of the year but they nonetheless live there. Taking away from these people the right to vote in their local body elections seems wrong to me. It is entirely based on the idea that they are just rich pricks on holiday who deserve no rights. This is not true in all of these cases and it seems unfair that people should think so. The fact that you are not in a community all year round does not mean that you are not a part of it.

    If a person does not strongly feel part of a community then it is very unlikely they would vote, for a start they would have to drive to their property there to pick up the ballot wouldn’t they? If the local community decisions do not heavily affect them they would not bother. The vast majority of people who do live in the communities do not bother to vote because they cannot be bothered. I think you will find with your sewage example it is a lot more than just holiday homers who are sick of not having a sewage system. If it was not they would have no hope of ever changing the system.

    You can come up with some alternate system of allowing a person who only lives in a community part of the time as opposed to simply based on property then I would happily support that idea. However it cannot be fair to strip the vote from those who live in multiple communities and deny them all rights to a say in their local communities. Everyone who lives in a community albeit part time has a right to vote for the issues that affect them.

    • Bright Red 8.1

      Rob. 22% of an electorate is a very large voting bloc that candidates cannot afford to ignore. it means that a majority of locals can be against something but as long as the holiday home owners and a few locals are for it, it can get through.

      “Some they may not live in for the majority of the year but they nonetheless live there”

      Not necessarily. It could just be a rental property.

      “If a person does not strongly feel part of a community then it is very unlikely they would vote”

      That’s no basis for rights – ‘it don’t matter if it’s wrong, because most won’t use it’

      “Everyone who lives in a community albeit part time has a right to vote for the issues that affect them.”

      What if they never live in the community? The ratepayer vote gives votes to people who have never lived there. maybe even never visited.

      • Rob 8.1.1

        “it means that a majority of locals can be against something but as long as the holiday home owners and a few locals are for it, it can get through.”

        I am not one for Tyranny of the majority. If that 22% out of towners all voted for a sewage system you would still need 39% of locals to vote for it. Even without the out of towners 40% of the population being denied a sewage system because of the cheapness of others is unfair. It is not a “few” locals it is 39% in the highest group of out of towners eddy was able to find.

        As to your other three quotes:

        I don’t think those people merely owning rental homes etc should have a vote but if you take away the right to vote for all ratepayers who are registered as living in another area you deprive the vote of people who do live there part of the time. Please don’t misread me those people who live there part of the time have rights to vote and you wish to take their rights away in order to deprive the property owners who don’t live there. That must be justified. In my view it isn’t.

        • Lanthanide

          Surely landlords deserve to get a say in the local amenities around their properties? After all, the main value for a property is location, and if your house is in an area that currently has septic tanks, but you think your property would be worth more if it had a proper sewerage system, shouldn’t you be able to vote for what’s in your best interests?

          • snoozer

            so, why not let people have more votes if they have more property in a single area?

            Why not let companies vote in general elections? After all, they have an interest in the infrastructure too.

            Because democracy is about one person, one vote and the council is not simply a body for property owners.

            • Lanthanide

              Fair enough. I’d also argue that if you bought property in a certain area, and the people in that area make a decision you don’t like, tough luck, sell up. Thus it becomes another risk to buying a rental property out of town.

              IMO people would be better off buying property in areas that they are familiar with anyway, so if anything I see an additional risk to absentee-landlords as a benefit. It would also help to prevent property markets in small towns and rural areas from being over inflated by monied city folks.

        • felix


          You’re imagining a fantasy world where decisions about sewerage are made by referendum.

          What we’re talking about is representative democracy.

          • Rob

            I was using the very example he gave in the post.

            I am aware we are talking about representative government. I fail to see why people with a stake in a community should not have a right to be represented.

            • felix

              Nobody votes for a sewerage system Rob.

              There is no such result as “22% out of towners all voted for a sewage system”.

              Can’t happen. No such thing. Not how representative democracy works.

  9. uke 9

    Wow. I wonder how this might apply in the case of some Māori land, where there could literally be hundreds or thousands of owners.

    (Sorry entered this comment in the wrong place – it is a reply to Snoozer above at 7.1.)

  10. Sarge 10

    Removing the right to vote where you hold property is, simply, removing the right to vote. If a person holds property (and hence pays rates, and has a vested interest in the area), they deserve a say in how it’s managed. Otherwise you’re taking their money, and not giving them a vote. What happened to “No taxation without representation”??

    • Lew 10.1

      Residency — not ratepayer status — is the criterion for voting in local body elections.


      • Sarge 10.1.1

        I’m aware of that. But people who reside in two different areas pay rates twice, so deserve a say in each area.

        • Anita


          Do people who own two properties in one area (and therefore pay rates twice) deserve two votes?

          How about people who just own one very big property?

          • Sarge

            No, because society has decided money to not allow money to skew elections, hence people who own two properties in they same area, they can only vote once.

            However, people with two properties in different areas can only vote once in each area. They can’t skew anything. Stopping them from doing so is the equilvent of saying “You’re working two jobs. Therefore you only get labour rights in the first one, and not the second”.

            • Lew

              They can vote twice and influence two elections. So why should money be permitted to skew elections across multiple constituencies, if it’s not permitted to skew them within one?


              • Sarge

                Because they have a vested interest in both elections.

                I do take your point. However, the problem of money skewing the elections is (relatively) small compared to the risk of citizens facing taxation without representation.

                • Lew

                  Does not someone who owns multiple properties, or more valuable properties, have a greater interest by this standard?

                  The point is that the delineation of “one person, one vote” is almost elemental — it’s only very slightly arbitrary. Certain people are excluded from “person”hood in this context — such as those deemed mentally unfit to vote, or underage. But the sort of provisos you argue open up a whole lot of potential wiggle-room: if this, why not that, etc. Best to simply have a clean system wheich recognises that political systems are first and foremost about people, not predominantly about wealth, property or privilege. Though, gods know, there are any number of ways to exercise those within the system.


  11. big bruv 11

    I have no issue with one man, one vote.

    However, voting should be restricted to those who pay tax, anybody who is on the dole for more than six months or is on the DPB should not have any voting rights.

    If you contribute then you get to have a say.

  12. big bruv 12

    Desperate for blog traffic Lew?

    • Lew 12.1

      Just can’t be arsed repeating myself, bruv.

      Sorry, burt, that I mistook you for bruv– a grave insult, I know.


    • Michael Foxglove 12.2

      big bruv – for goodness sake be a bit nicer to those trying to have a reasoned debate.

  13. Mac1 13

    Big bruv, should people who only own land through trusts have votes according to this thinking? Should tax avoiders/evaders have votes? Should non-taxpaying beneficiaries like old age pensioners have the vote?

    Here be slippery slopes.

  14. big bruv 14


    It need not be difficult, pensioners should always have the vote, most of them have paid tax all their life.
    Long term dole bludgers and DPB parasites live off the hard work and graft of others, given they are not contributing to the overall wealth of the nation then they should not have say in how OUR money is spent.

    • snoozer 14.1

      but people on the dole pay tax, big bruv.

      And what if I’m on the dole for two years between elections do I get to vote but someone who is on for two years that includes an election doesn’t?

    • Pascal's bookie 14.2

      Why do you think it is ‘your’ money? Or rather, why do you exclude some citizens from the ‘us’ that owns the money?

      It’s not difficult. You get a tax bill. That is money that it has been determined you owe. When you pay it, it stops being ‘yours’, and becomes ‘the Crowns’. The money changes hands. It ceases to be ‘yours’ in any way that excludes other citizens from any ‘us’ you may be a part of.

      You might disagree about what the tax policy should be, and you might disagree about how the crown should spend the money it collects from taxes, but that doesn’t magically make the taxes belong to you.

    • Bunji 14.3

      So politicians, civil servants and the military shouldn’t get votes as their wages come from the public purse?

      Probably all poor people who have used too much health and education and working from families compared to the tax they’ve paid, we’d better take the vote off them.

      And people who work for volunteer organisations, why they’re certainly not moral enough to get the vote like fine upstanding taxpayer big bruv.

      • felix 14.3.1

        You may think you’re painting a ridiculous parody but this is exactly what is proposed by bruv, cactus kate, and their fascist leaning mates all over the right-wing blogosphere.

        • Cactus Kate

          If facist means that you shouldn’t get a vote when you don’t contribute, then it is what it is. I’m all for it.

          Tenants don’t pay rates, anymore than they don’t pay interest to the bank for a mortgage or lose their home if the bank forecloses. If the rates aren’t paid then hello, who is liable? It aint the tenant. It is the landlord. That person should be the ONLY person with a vote in a local body system that collects rates.

          If you have 10 homes then why not 10 votes? You are paying 10 lots of rates.

          The poor and pathetic can’t have it both ways. While democracy is supposed to equal no taxation without representation, why can’t it mean no representation unless you pay taxation?

          While ratepayers carry the burden of rates there is no valid reason why non-ratepayers should get a vote. Call it facist, call it anything you want.

          I call it correct.

          • Lew

            I just can’t wait until someone breaks out the “market in taxation” argument, viz: if we apportion the number of votes one may cast to the amount of tax they pay, it will drive up taxation revenue because everyone will want to pay more tax so they can have more votes!”


          • Bored


            What a squalid little scenario you seem to propose.

            So tenants dont pay rates? No of course not directly…their landlords use the rent to do that. So I supposed by dint of ownership they get to use anothers income and housing need to garner their vote.

            You say “The poor and pathetic can’t have it both ways. While democracy is supposed to equal no taxation without representation, why can’t it mean no representation unless you pay taxation?”

            Hmmmmmm….lets apply this with some vigour to democracy as we know it…first the non earning partner in a relationship, hell there go a lot of mainly female votes. Then perhaps the retired or sick (they actually do get taxed on their benefit / pensions but thats anothr story)….yeah, they dont “pay” so lets offload them, now the tenants…

            See where your rather sordid scenario ends up? If you have the cash you get to vote. Take it to iits logical conclusion and there is no democracy, only votes from those who can buy them. I suspect that suits your philosophy though, creepy.

    • Mac1 14.4

      big bruv
      My mother hardly paid tax, being of that generation in which the husband worked and the wife stayed at home. Do we make an exception for her and those non-tax-paying beneficiaries?

      Had she been widowed would we call her a DPB parasite as she sought to bring up her boys? As do others who have been widowed in a way by the desertion of their spouses?

      Do pensioners who have been mostly unemployed during the years of the working life get to keep losing their vote once they become pensioners? Who will decide who is a bludger? You, big bruv? As I say, it’s a slippery slope.

      You harken back to another time of the Liberal Government when it introduced the Old Age Pensions and recipients had to be ‘deserving’ of the charity of the State, big bruv.

      You see, I would reckon to be parasites people like the ones you avoided in my first comment- the tax evaders and avoiders. Like those two doctors who avoided $160,000 in taxation.

      Why should they have a vote, in your book?

      • Cactus Kate 14.4.1

        Why should they vote? Ergh because even after “tax avoidance” they still paid more tax than you did.

        • Bored

          Yes, paying more tax than your fellow citizen makes a person much more value to a society. Much greater a person all round, truly superior. How totally splendid.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Duh kate. They lost the case, ie they didnae pay the tax they owed.

          ergo, they aint paid for their vote.

          This whole ‘no representation without taxation’ thing is old , boring and resolved.

          What it is, is feudalism.

          In return for taxes, certain subjects (coz citizenship is extinguished as a concept) are granted privileges that other subjects don’t get.

          They way it historically gets resolved is through that other US-revolution-era phrase of ‘natural rights’. You’ll see that word ‘rights’ there is in contradistinction to the ‘privileges’ you are claiming. The ‘natural’ bit of the phrase comes from the stone cold fact that it is a right those other subjects have by virtue of their nature. ie it’s not something you can alienate from them, it’s not a socially constructed right (like citizenship, property, or private law ‘privilege’) but something they just have the ability to do.

          That starboard idiot in another thread unwittingly alluded to the French instance of this natural right-feudal privilege conflict when he talked about old ladies and knitting. Clickety click Clickety click.

          • Mac1

            There it is! New Right Wing theology.

            “To each according to their means. From each according to their neediness.”

            Soak the poor and give it to the rich.

  15. uroskin 15

    If only Rodney Hide would put his tiny mind to this anachronism instead of Ueber-Stadt delusions.

  16. Any takers?

    Well, I’ll happily draft the bill. But you’ll need to find an MP.

    • uroskin 16.1

      Some discussion was already started last year on this, but it needs obviously fleshing out.
      I would have thought it may appeal to both the propertied classes (property owners sharing the cost of local government with a wider tax base) and leftwingers (linking tax raising to income levels). Opponents would be Maori landowners and churches currently exempt from rates? That would also need to lead to a call to abolish tax-exempt status of property trading and exploiting charities and trusts.

  17. WH 17

    In this discussion it is worth unpicking whether each council/community board election counts as a seperate election: meaning each resident/ratepayer is entitled to one vote for that particular council/community board, resulting in a person having the potential to vote in the Tawa election on the basis of being a resident and also voting in the Martinborough election by being a ratepayer. Versus there is only one local government election that is for all of New Zealand but where you only vote within a specific geographic definition: meaning you life in Tawa so you get one vote only which can only be utilised for candidates standing for the Tawa community board.

    In the first scenario it would be logically consistent to allow a person to have a vote in two seperate elections because of their connection to each election. In the second scenario it would logically consistent to only have one vote as their is only one election.

    Seperating out whether it is only one national election or a series of seperate local elections may clarify the basis of why some people have differing opinions that are more than simply my tribe is right arguments.

    • Rob 17.1

      I would easily place them as two separate elections. The two areas councils have no say and likely no communication with each other.

  18. Bill 18

    “One person, one vote that’s democracy”

    No it’s not. That’s a sad shadow of democracy. Democracy is having the opportunity of input to decisions to the extent that those decisions will effect you.


    So in your scenario, the out of towners get a say. Just not as much of a say as the permanent residents.

    If you were to maintain that out of towners get no say, then the final decision could well be unnecessarily flawed and contentious due to some pertinent viewpoint or piece of information being missed.

    • burt 18.1

      The holiday batch owners were completely surprised when the council (on which they were excluded from having voting right) voted to levy an ‘out of town’ 30% markup on the rates for non permanent resident owners. “Gosh we didn’t see that coming” one totally surprised out of town owner was quoted as saying to an equally shocked local journalist.

  19. Celia WB 19

    The debate here is mainly about bach owners. My original issue was that someone who owns several companies in a city can ensure that an out of towner is nominated for each company so they end up controlling several votes for one area. We don’t expect companies to get votes at a parliamentary election so why shoudl it happen at local elections?

    The interests locally may be about care for the most vulnerable in social housing, good access for children to libraries, urban design that gives active modes more than half a chance and so on. These don’t individually affect property values but they do affect cities, towns and the quality of life.

    Some people say “who would bother to register a nominee for each property?” but if The Property Council sends out a letter urging all property owners to nominate someone for each company’s property, then they must think it’s worth doing!

    Other countries (Nordic & UK) have got rid of the abilty to vote purely due to owning property more than fifty years ago (not that their democracy is exactly perfect!!).

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