Why isn’t it one person, one vote? Abolish the ratepayer roll

Julienne Molineaux

The principle of one person, one vote doesn’t apply for local elections. In fact, you don’t even need to be a person to have voting rights. Welcome to the ratepayer roll. While the ratepayer roll accounts for less than 1% of votes cast, it is significant because it is in

Online voting FAQ

Julienne Molineaux

The trial of online voting for the October 2019 local government elections was called off last December, for cost reasons. The online voting working party, which had been organising the trial, is now calling on central government to fund online voting for the 2022 local government elections. The Local Electoral

Strengthening local voices

Jean Drage

Local government is an essential part of New Zealand’s democracy, providing local infrastructure and leadership, facilitating economic and community development along with strategic and financial planning and decision-making (in consultation with communities) on current and future key issues. Today, our local councils deal with critical issues such as protecting our

To enshrine and define local government once and for all

Christine Rose

New Zealand has one of the most centralised political systems in the OECD. Functions and finance are concentrated in the highest level of the two-tier state system, central government, with local government roles allocated at the discretion of legislation determined by central government ideologies, perceptions and preferences. Because local government’s

Google, Facebook and New Zealand news media

Merja Myllylahti

New Zealand media argue that Facebook and Google have become too dominant in the New Zealand digital media market, harming the sustainability of newsrooms, and hindering the quality and diversity of local journalism. The Commerce Commission and the High Court, meanwhile, have refused to let media companies Fairfax NZ and

Free speech and responsibilities

David Hall

Every morning, on the way to work, I pass Speakers’ Corner, near the eastern entrance to Albert Park. It offers a public platform for people to speak freely. It also has a sign with a code of conduct: “Show courtesy to others. Respect alternative opinions. Be lawful.” And so on.

Saving local democracy: An agenda for the new government

Mike Reid

Local government is inhibited and enabled by central government legislation, policies, and relationships. As such, the election of a new (central) government is a good time to review policy settings for local government. The previous government (2008-2017) systematically stripped back local government in New Zealand, reducing local democracy and treating

New Zealand media ownership: History and obfuscation

Wayne Hope

This year’s New Zealand Media Ownership report written by Merja Myllylahti and published by the Journalism, Media and Democracy research centre (JMAD) recounts how two attempted mergers failed. The Sky TV–Vodafone and NZME–Fairfax mergers were prevented by the Commerce Commission (in the latter case an  appeal is before the High

Grand Coalitions: Finland and New Zealand

Pii-Tuulia Nikula

In the aftermath of the 2017 general election, the likely options for a coalition government of New Zealand seem to be narrowed down to only  two main options: a National Party–NZ First or a Labour-Green Party-NZ First governing arrangement. With a more than 20 years history with the Mixed Member

How MMP Works: Freestyle bargaining

Julienne Molineaux

  Understanding that you have two votes, and what each is for, is fairly straightforward. But once the votes are in, what happens? New Zealand is making MMP up as we go along. We have what is called a ‘freestyle bargaining’ approach to government formation. There are no rules about

MMP has come of age

Peter Aimer

In 1986 a Royal Commission appointed by the Lange Labour government introduced to a largely incredulous nation a strange new acronym – MMP. What followed was a decade of extraordinary angst, advocacy and activism surrounding the voting system, culminating in the first MMP general election in 1996. Now, 21 years

Media ownership matters

Merja Myllylahti

Media ownership matters, so 2016 has certainly been meaningful for New Zealand media companies and consumers. As I describe in my newly released media ownership report for AUT’s Journalism, Media and Democracy Research Centre (JMAD), three  events stand out as the most important. The first two received considerable attention: first,

Pale, male and middle-aged: Auckland Council’s lack of diversity

Karen Webster

We’ve all heard the adage describing the traditional local councillor as “pale, male and middle-aged”. So, just how true is this for the Auckland Council? Research undertaken at AUT following the 2013 and the recent 2016 local government election compared the gender, ethnicity and age (2013 only) of local candidates

Subjective Assessments of the Super City

Charles Crothers

Auckland continues to be New Zealand’s bold experiment in local government reform. Is the Super City a success, a disappointment or something in between? In 2013 researchers in the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at AUT set up and ‘populated’ a monitoring framework based on one developed by

Young People, Civics, and Political Literacy

Andrew Chen

There is an intergenerational democratic deficit, most obvious in voting statistics. The Electoral Commission reports that only 62.7% of enrolled voters aged 18-24 voted in 2014, in comparison to 86.3% of enrolled voters aged 60 or older. This situation looks even worse when we include the fact that only 66.4%

No silver bullet: Online voting and local elections

Julienne Molineaux

Local body election time is over for another three years, and even before polls closed, there were laments over low turnout. A low turnout undermines the legitimacy of the winners and can point to wider problems: disillusionment with democratic processes, institutions and actors. It is also problematic because some groups

Stuff-Me: The newspaper gobble-up

Julienne Molineaux

The proposed merger between NZME and Fairfax New Zealand is the latest instalment in the increasing concentration of ownership in New Zealand’s newspaper industry. There is much commentary about the merger; the purpose of this paper is to provide some history.   In New Zealand, concentration of newspaper ownership via

‘Critic & Conscience’ of Society

Ian Shirley

In 2010 I participated in an OECD Forum in Paris. The Forum was ostensibly focused on the ‘Road to Recovery’ following the onset of what was called the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. In contrast to previous OECD events the forum was dominated by pessimism. The chief economist of the

Europe’s Attack on Greek Democracy

Joseph Stiglitz

The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors. In fact, European leaders are finally beginning to reveal the true nature of the ongoing debt dispute, and the answer is

Je Suis Eleanor

Dame Anne Salmond

In the wake of the shooting of cartoonists and journalists in Paris, political leaders in New Zealand have expressed shock and horror, and their support for those who uphold freedom of expression in other countries. What about freedom of speech and thought at home, however? Over the past decade or

Paris Is A Warning: There Is No Insulation From Our Wars

Seumas Milne

The official response to every jihadist-inspired terrorist attack in the west since 2001 has been to pour petrol on the flames. That was true after 9/11 when George Bush launched his war on terror, laying waste to countries and spreading terror on a global scale. It was true in Britain

It’s Not OK

Dame Anne Salmond

The three Briefing Papers posted today were written by Professor Anne Salmond of the University of Auckland in response to what she describes as the Slippery Slope of Democracy in New Zealand. The first paper was written in the wake of Dirty Politics, the book released by Nicky Hager that

Democracy is for Everyone

Dame Anne Salmond

The three Briefing Papers posted today were written by Professor Anne Salmond of the University of Auckland in response to what she describes as the Slippery Slope of Democracy in New Zealand. The first paper was written in the wake of Dirty Politics, the book released by Nicky Hager that has

For Richer, For Poorer

Dame Anne Salmond

The three Briefing Papers posted today were written by Professor Anne Salmond of the University of Auckland in response to what she describes as the Slippery Slope of Democracy in New Zealand. The first paper was written in the wake of Dirty Politics, the book released by Nicky Hager that

The Public Sector in New Zealand

Len Cook

In a democracy, the public service is more than the operational arm for doing what Ministers want. It is in essence a guardian of the constitutional foundations, processes and practices of our society ensuring the equality of all citizens in the way that they are regarded by the state. The

The Purpose of Government

Bryan Gould

The proper role of government is perhaps the most central and hotly debated issue in democratic politics. Even during the immediate post-war era, which we can now see in retrospect was the heyday of confidence in government and its power and legitimacy, contrary voices warned against the threats to personal

The Conversation

Ranginui Walker

The longest running conversation on the New Zealand Constitution between Māori and the Crown is climaxing in our time towards mature nationhood. The conversation began in 1840 when the rangatira, the sovereigns of the soil made it clear to the British Resident James Busby they would not surrender their mana