The SuperCity bill proposes that the Mayor and 8 councillors are elected from a single vote across the city. Sounds good doesn’t it. Auckland speaks as one and the councillors have a mandate to represent the city as a whole rather than individual communities.
But who can afford to play this game?
For the 8 councillors the Govt proposes to elect at large they will have a very large constituency of around half a million voters. It would cost $250,000 to send a letter to each one as part of a campaign.
It is hard to estimate campaign expenses but they would be ridiculously high. MPs spend up to $20,000 incl GST to run a local campaign in electorates of 50,000 voters. So you could be looking at 200,000 to cover the city – that doesn’t cover a lot so we are looking at high volume/low content methods of campaigning.
The system, it would seem, is biased towards the rich and famous and while you might get a lot of publicity about the prospective mayor in the media how much do you think you would know about the rest of them? Can you name 8 city councillors? Those islanders who attended the waste management council meetings can but they are not your average Auckland voter.
The danger here is of getting a council stocked either with bland businessmen in suits who vote for their friends in business or career politicians. It leaves little room for people who want to represent their community and city for a better future.
The issues around voting rules are not included in the Bill but interestingly the Select Committee has agreed it will hear submissions on whether there should be spending limits, and on the voting system (eg. FPP or STV).
So consider making a submission pushing for more locally elected councillors, caps on spending and fair voting systems.