Candidates not fazed by elec­torate split

The Timaru Herald - - Local National - By TRACEY CHAT­TER­TON

SOUTH Can­ter­bury vot­ers are split and that’s be­fore they even de­cide who to vote for.

The re­gion has been carved up into two new elec­torates — Ran­gi­tata and Waitaki.

It has split South Can­ter­bury through the mid­dle, lump­ing Ti­maru in with Ash­bur­ton and a large pro­por­tion of the ru­ral district sur­round­ing the city in with Otago.

The close towns of Geral­dine and Orari could both vote for the Labour elec­torate can­di­date but be vot­ing for two dif­fer­ent peo­ple now that they fall into dif­fer­ent elec­torates. Orari sits in the Ran­gi­tata elec­torate while Geral­dine only sev­eral kilo­me­tres away is now part of the Waitaki elec­torate.

Which MP would a Bea­cons­field res­i­dent who lives in the Waitaki elec­torate but works in Ti­maru which is in the Ran­gi­tata elec­torate visit? Peo­ple can be for­given for feel­ing con­fused.

Labour’s Ran­gi­tata can­di­date Ju­lian Blan­chard said he wouldn’t turn away some­one from the Waitaki elec­torate and would pass on the in­for­ma­tion to the Waitaki MP. ‘‘If peo­ple want to see their lo­cal MP a line on a map is not go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.’’

Ao­raki MP Jo Good­hew said it’s ap­pro­pri­ate for the con­stituent’s own MP to rep­re­sent them if con­tact is made with a Min­is­ter or a gov­ern­ment depart­ment.

‘‘How­ever, neigh­bour­ing MPs like Jac­qui Dean and my­self of­ten have a close work­ing re­la­tion­ship. Jac­qui and I and our re­spec­tive elec­torate agents do work closely, and it would be fair to say that some is­sues are across elec­torate bound­aries any­way.’’

For the peo­ple of Geral­dine or Otipua it’s likely there MP will be at least a two hour drive away.

The main bat­tle for the Waitaki seat is be­tween the Oa­maru-based in­cum­bent MP Jac­qui Dean and Labour’s David Parker who will re­tain his base in Dunedin if he wins the seat.

The new bound­aries prompted anger among some res­i­dents south of Ti­maru who feel they are now es­tranged from their com­mu­nity of in­ter­est and at­tached to large sprawl­ing elec­torates which bear no re­sem­blance to their own.

The Rep­re­sen­ta­tion Com­mis­sion re­ceived 22 ob­jec­tions on the new Waitaki elec­torate.

Ti­maru mayor Janie An­n­ear, South Can­ter­bury Cham­ber of Com­merce and the South Can­ter­bury branch of the Na­tional Coun­cil of New Zealand Woman all said al­ter­ing the ex­ist­ing Ao­raki elec­torate bound­ary ig­nored nat­u­ral bound­aries and com­mu­ni­ties of in­ter­est.

But their sub­mis­sions failed to sway the de­ci­sion.

The Rep­re­sen­ta­tion Com­mis­sion looks at ex­ist­ing elec­torate bound­aries, com­mu­ni­ties of in­ter­est, topo­graph­i­cal fea­tures and pro­jected vari­a­tions in elec­toral pop­u­la­tions but all South Is­land elec­torates must be plus or mi­nus of the re­quired av­er­age pop­u­la­tion of 57,562 peo­ple.

The Ran­gi­tata elec­torate in­cludes Ti­maru city, Te­muka, Orari and Ash­bur­ton up to the Rakaia River as well as Pleas­ant Point and its im­me­di­ate sur­rounds.

The re­main­ing parts of the Ti­maru District, in­clud­ing Geral­dine and Pare­ora, are in the Waitaki elec­torate with the Macken­zie District, Wai­mate, Cen­tral Otago as well as the north­ern por­tion of Queen­stown Lakes District and Wanaka. Th­ese bound­aries will ap­ply for the 2008 and 2011 elec­tion.

Un­der the Elec­toral Act, the bound­aries of the gen­eral and Maori elec­torates must be re­viewed af­ter each pop­u­la­tion cen­sus and Maori Elec­toral Op­tion. Statis­tics New Zealand cal­cu­lates the av­er­age pop­u­la­tion size for elec­torates fol­low­ing the cen­sus.

There will be 70 elec­torates — 63 gen­eral elec­torates and seven Maori elec­torates. While the num­ber of elec­torate seats in­creases by one, the over­all size of Par­lia­ment does not change. The num­ber of list seats will re­duce from 51 to 50.

RAN­GI­TATA: The elec­torate heads north from south­ern Ti­maru to take in Ash­bur­ton.

WAITAKI: From the out­skirts of Ti­maru through to Mt Cook, Wanaka and down to Mid­dle­march.

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