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THE REPRESENTATION DEADLOCK., Issue 7968, 25 July 1889
THE REPRESENTATION DEADLOCK.
Whatever may be our opinion of the Representation Act Amendment Bill, it is clearly a waste of time to debate it further after the division of Monday night, or, to speak more literally, of Tuesday morning. Of the entire House, only twelve members went into the lobby to vote against it, and only fifteen paired against it. The . majority was overwhelming, as might have been expected. The four cities have been marked out for sacrifice; and, excepting the representatives of these and their immediate surroundings, every man's hand was against them. Why the other urban populations—such as Napier and New Plymouth in the North, and Nelson and Invercargill in the South Island—were not included in the same category as Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland it is not difficult to understand. The inclusion of those other towns would have considerably affected the division list, but the man at the wheel avoided those shoals; and the final issue—no matter how long it may be delayed—cannot but lessen the influence of the four principal towns in New Zealand. We are quite willing to concede something to the country districts. Their greater area, increased as it will be by the reduction of the number of members, necessitates some concession; but the crafty way in which 33 per cent, is made to appear only as 25 per cent, in the Bill does not commend itself to approbation. This is the arithmetical problem members have been invited to study. The clause runs thus: "In computing for the " purposes of this Act the population "of the following portions of the " Colony—that is to say, the cities of " Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, "and Dunedin, and every borough "and town district, any part of "which is within one mile from " part of the said cities, a deduction of " 25 per cent, shall be made from the "number of the population of such " cities, boroughs, and town districts. " The total population of the Colony " (other than Maoris), less the deduc- " tions made from the cities, boroughs, " and districts [aforesaid, shall be di"vided by the number of members, " and the quotient thus obtained shall "be the quota computing the popula- " tion." According to the one mile radius, as prescribed in the Bill, we find that the population of Auckland is 43,730; of Wellington, 30,501; of Christchurch, 35,623; and Dunedin, 44,996. The total population of these cities is, therefore, 154,850, and that of the country districts is 450,381, the Chatham Islands counting an additional 199, and the persons engaged in shipping 4,726; giving 610,156 persons as the entire European population of New Zealand on the 31st of March last. The reduction of 25 per cent, reduces the electoral strength of Dunedin to a little under 34,000. The quota obtained is 7,664, and this applies to both town and country. But then there is another arithmetical puzzle in the way. The Bill goes on to say that" there shall be four city "electoral districts, to be called re- " spectively Auckland, Wellington, "Christchurch, and Dunedin, and •'that there shall be assigned to "each of them three members. "The extent of each of the city "electoral districts shall respectively "be such that the population thereof, "after making the deduction afore- " said, shall not exceed or fall short by " more than 750 for each member the ' quota multiplied by the number of " members assigned to such electoral " district." The meaning of it all is that Dunedin and the other cities will lose each one member. That much was to have been expected, seeing that the representation has been decreased by one-fourth; but they suffer more in proportion than other parts of the Colony. The real difference is about the 33 per cent., so that the country members shall have their way, and the real quota is obtained at the expense of the four principal cities. One good point in the Bill is the amalgamation of the city electorates; and unless we mistake the temper of the people—and we do not think we do—more than one of the present members for Dunedin will, under this arrangement, be found to be missing ,from Parliament after the next election takes place, and so far we have reason to be thankful. No representa--1 tion is better than bad representation.
THE REPRESENTATION DEADLOCK., Issue 7968, 25 July 1889
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