Invercargill City Council retains First Past the Post electoral system

Invercargill City Councillors have voted to stick with the status quo, and have retained the First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system.

In a full Council meeting on Tuesday 18 July, Councillors were asked whether or not they wanted to change the electoral process, used to determine successful candidates in upcoming local government elections, from FPP to Single Transferrable Vote (STV). Councillors Peter Kett, Barry Stewart, Grant Dermody, Ria Bond and Ian Pottinger, as well as Mayor Nobby Clark, were in favour of retaining the current system. Councillors Lesley Soper, Darren Ludlow, and Alex Crackett voted to change to STV.

Deputy mayor Tom Campbell, and Councillors Trish Boyle and Allan Arnold were not present for the vote.

Earlier this year, Council called for public submissions to seek the community’s view on how they wanted to see candidates – including the Mayor, Councillors, and Community Board members – elected in the future.

Council’s Deputy Electoral Officer Michael Morris said Council was able to determine its preferred electoral process every three years. This year was the first time Invercargill City Councillors had sought submissions on whether the public wanted to change electoral processes, he said.

Public consultation took place during the Long-term Plan pre-engagement process, and included formal written submissions as well as informal submissions both in person and online using Council’s Let’s Talk page, Morris said.

“Our consultation showed an interesting split in public opinion,” he said.

“As a whole, younger people – including our Youth Council – were more strongly in favour of changing to STV, which they argued contributed to a more diverse representation amongst elected members.

“On the other hand, older people tended to prefer FPP, and said it was a less complex electoral process,” he said.

Council received 68 written submissions. Of those, 37 were in favour of changing to Single Transferrable Vote, while 31 favoured First Past the Post. During the Long-term Plan pre-engagement pop-up events held throughout Invercargill and Bluff, an informal poll using pompoms garnered 42 votes in favour of STV and 49 in favour of FPP, Morris said.

Out of 78 local authorities throughout Aotearoa, 15 now use STV to select successful candidates while the remaining 63 use the FPP electoral process.