22 Mar 2010

Maori Party questions one party, one vote concept

6:38 pm on 22 March 2010

The Maori Party is questioning the democratic principle of one vote for one person.

During a Race Relations Day speech in Auckland on Sunday, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples conceded that the relationship between his party and the National Government can be sometimes stressful and difficult.

Dr Sharples says the agreement between the Maori Party and National is an example of leadership in race relations, but it is not always easy.

Dr Sharples spoke of being saddened by the Government's decision not to include designated Maori seats on the Auckland super-city council, which he described as a missed opportunity.

He told Morning Report on Monday that the concept of one vote for one person is an artificial political concoction.

"Because that's just one model, if you like, of a democratic position. But, you see, I would have thought the essence of democracy is goals towards equity and those sort of goals that actually produce inclusiveness ... I think that's really the goal of democracy."

Distracting rubbish, says Labour

The Labour Party has dismissed Maori Party criticisms of the one person, one vote democratic system as distracting rubbish.

Dr Sharples described the rule of one vote for one person as an artificial political concoction. But Labour MP Shane Jones told Morning Report that this assertion is "ridiculous".

"The guy got into politics on the back of a one person, one vote system. What's he going to replace it with?

"It's more of this distracting rubbish that we hear from the Maori Party, because the deeper problem is their ability to deliver. They are up against some pretty powerful forces in the National Party."

Mr Jones believes the comments by Dr Sharples outlining tensions in the governing relationship is an admission of failure.

He says the Maori Party has found itself in an agreement where it lacks the strategy and the imagination to take the country forward.

Prime Minister John Key says he rejects the Maori Party view that democracy is not being served in Auckland, saying that it's up to local councils whether or not to have dedicated Maori seats.