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Published: 2002-08-29 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has opted to retain its First Past the Post electoral system for the next local government elections.

It will also notify the public that they have the right to demand a poll as to which system they want, with five percent of voters’ signatures – 12,217 people.

Local governments have to make a decision by September 12 on whether to retain the current FPP system or adopt the Single Transferable Vote electoral system. Any change to STV would need to continue for the next two elections and the public has to be notified that they can demand a poll.

So far, 30 councils have decided to retain First Past the Post, Masterton and Whangarei have decided to hold a poll and 19, including Environment Canterbury and Environment Bay of Plenty, have decided to consult their communities.

Twelve have held off making a decision, and four – Kapiti, Marlborough, Opotiki and Papakura - opted for Single Transferable Vote.

The Local Electoral Act significantly altered previous law governing the conduct of local government and District Health Board elections, giving greater flexibility and local choice.

Cr Barry O’Connor said only the Hamilton constituency was likely to benefit from STV and it was irrelevant for the vast majority of Regional constituencies as there was not a diversity of people standing. STV was also new to New Zealand, he said.

Cr David Peart said he had studied the documentation and thought that much of the information was misleading.

“It suggests that a lot of wasted votes wouldn’t be wasted under a new system but this is not true. It just changes whose votes are wasted.

“It’s a mathematical nightmare but I don’t think people would have any better opportunity to have their vote county than under the present system.”