New Editorial Page

September 23 2019 by Hamish Walker MP | Member of Parliament for Clutha

There is nothing quite like an election.

Whether it be the general election or a local election, it provides our community with the opportunity to play a part in democracy. One aspect where local elections struggle to compare with general elections though is voter turnout.

At the last election, only 54.1% of eligible voters in the Queenstown Lakes District took part and voted. This was up about 8% on the previous election in 2013 and I would encourage those of you who didn’t vote last time to make sure you do this year.

Whether your priorities are water quality or infrastructure in your area, the amount you pay in rates or many other issues ongoing in the area, the only way to ensure your priorities are covered is to vote.

Of the three mayoral candidates, or 10 Queenstown candidates, or six Wanaka candidates, some will share your priorities, others may not. The key is to know who they are and what they stand for, and their election profiles will give you an understanding of this.

If you want to know more, multiple public meetings are going on throughout the district which provides the opportunity to questions the candidates more in-depth. Who knows, you may even give them something more to think about!

What I do know is you need to have your say, because if you don’t the person who also has the same priorities as you may not be voted in.

It is the old cliché of if you don’t vote, you cannot criticise, because how is that fair? It also pays to remember there are still countries in the world where they do not have the opportunity or right to vote at all.

In others, although they have elections, voters are none the wiser as to what they are actually voting for.

Surveys show with local elections the reason people do not vote is they aren’t interested, or they don’t have enough information and in some cases, they are too busy.

I would encourage all of these people to make the time, find out more and get interested. Local elections only occur every three years, so if you don’t have your say now, it’s a long time before you will have your next opportunity.

If we compare not having the right to vote with not choosing to exercise that right, I think we need to remember how lucky we are to be able to vote. Voting packs will be arriving any day now – take the time to vote and play your part in democracy.

Hamish Walker MP | Member of Parliament for Clutha-Southland

- Hamish Walker MP | Member of Parliament for Clutha
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