Electoral system issues laid bare

Thursday July 26, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

In the elections, as yet undecided pending the outcome of the electoral petitions, and despite the CIP caretaker government assuming the results before they’ve been decided, the embarrassing democratic illegitimacy of our electoral system is laid bare for all to see.

In the north, 584 voters elected four members, an average of 146 voters per member. In the south, 1831 voters elected 10 members, an average of 183 voters per member. On Rarotonga 6223 voters elected 10 members, an average of 622 voters per member.

Combining the north and south, outside of Rarotonga, 2415 voters elected 14 members. In other words, 38.8 per cent of the voters elected 58.33 per cent of the members. Rarotonga, with 72 per cent of all voters, elected 41 per cent of the members.  The worst inequalities took place in the north and on Mangaia. In Rakahanga 63 voters electing one member. In Rakahanga one vote is worth 10 votes in Rarotonga. In the Ivirua seat on Mangaia, 52 people elected one member. In that seat one vote is worth 12 votes in Rarotonga.

How can anyone say this result is fair? It’s clear the present system is so heavily weighted to favour non- Rarotonga electorates, that parliament, with 14 out of 24 seats held by non-Rarotonga members, is controlled by 38.8 per cent of voters.

Both parties have little incentive to change things. With the CIP holding or controlling all four northern seats, they certainly won’t want to change anything there. The Demos likewise won’t want to change anything on Mangaia where they have all three seats.

The caretaker CIP government stunt, complete with an aircraft chartered at taxpayer cost, in swearing in three ministers of this and that before the petition outcome is known, is their way of cementing the alliance with those non-CIP members, who immediately got government cars and ministerial salaries, as well as foreign trips to keep them away from the temptations of Demo persuasion.

It may not look like it, but the other things in play in this election bonanza include the $3 million, hugely excessive cost of Te Maeva Nui.

The TMN fully paid charters were arranged and publicised in the north long in advance of the election. Not only a taxpayer-funded free shopping trip to Rarotonga, but we’ll have to pay to see the visitors perform at the auditorium! And only three years after the last big freebie. The extravagance has all the hallmarks of a big thank-you by the government for voting them back into power – subject to troublesome petitions being swept aside of course. Of course, it also provides a bonanza for the merchants of Rarotonga and another fully subsidised attraction to please the tourism corporation. 

All we taxpayers on Rarotonga can do is groan at the waste. Never before have so few got so much out of so many. How much longer will the taxpayers of Rarotonga pay to provide outer island electorates with a free lifestyle?

            Mata-Atua McNair

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