A push by a councillor to change the Otago Regional
Council's voting system for the 2016 local body elections has
been derailed due to his need to catch a plane.
Under the Local Government Act, councils were required to
reaffirm this month the voting system they would use at the
next local body election.
The Otago Regional Council had decided before the last
election it would continue to operate under the
first-past-the-post system for the 2013 and 2016 elections.
However, when it came time to confirm this decision last
month, Cr Michael Deaker said councillors needed more
information on the voting system options.
On Wednesday, University of Otago Associate Prof Janine
Hayward spoke at a council workshop outlining the FPP system
and the alternative single transferable vote (STV).
Yesterday, at a finance and corporate committee meeting, Cr
Deaker led the discussion proposing the council change to
''Frankly, the time has come for us to make the change,'' he
On the basis of the information provided by Prof Hayward and
the experience of the Wellington Regional Council's change to
STV, he believed it would decrease the instances of voter
error and resolve the inconsistency and confusion having the
regional council using a system different from the Dunedin
City Council and Southern District Health Board.
But Cr Deaker had to leave the meeting early to catch a
plane, due to work commitments, so missed the vote on the
proposal to change to STV.
The vote of the 10 councillors left at the meeting was drawn
five for STV and five against. Under standing orders that
meant the status quo - FPP - stood.
Cr Deaker, speaking after the meeting from Christchurch, said
he was disappointed and frustrated by the outcome, which he
had not anticipated.
''I was deluded in thinking the change would be easily
He still believed STV would significantly advance voter
participation and was sorry the committee did not adopt it.
Crs Bryan Scott, Louise Croot, Trevor Kempton and Gretchen
Robertson also supported the move to STV.
Cr Scott said it was a more proportional system giving people
greater influence on the outcome although he was concerned
the region's district councils had historically stuck to FFP.
''It may support voter attendance.''
Cr Kempton said there was clear evidence more people were
interested in voting if the system was the same.
Chairman Stephen Woodhead also supported a change, although
admitted he had been a long-time supporter of FPP.
He believed the council also had to see if it could address
the visibility of the regional council's list on the voting
Opposing the change were Crs Sam Neill, Gerry Eckhoff, Gary
Kelliher, Doug Brown and David Shepherd.
The council is now required to advertise its decision and
give the public the right to demand a poll on the electoral
system if it finds support from 5% of electors.
Cr Graeme Bell was not at the meeting.