by Catherine Delahunty
Appropriate decision making is one of the core principles of the Greens and it is very useful when we are grappling with the developing discourse around MMP and also decision making under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
This core principle means that we uphold the importance of voting as a vital tool in decision making and we can explore how voting is structured to make sure votes are meaningful and as fair as possible to all. Hence MMP is a better system for more people in a representative democracy. However good decision making is not just about counting votes. If a consensus can be developed and all participants own the decision then often a longer lasting decision can be implemented. Many of us experience this at Green events and at marae hui.
Hence the need for skilled consensus building not only within the Greens but across the country. In recent legislation co-governance of the Waikato River was established whereby a joint authority of tangata whenua appointees and elected tauiwi was set up to work on clean up of the awa. This is an example of a different model of decision making which reflects the long struggle for the clean up of the Waikato and for recognition of cultural models and relationships to reflect both traditions. It is not a full Te Tiriti recognition but a negotiated compromise.
Some people think that to embrace a more varied and participatory model of decision making undermines a bitter fought and hard won principle of “one person one vote”. My personal view is that some situations can be resolved through voting and a secret ballot but others are enhanced by dialogue and a commitment to finding an outcome that all can live with.
The majority vote model has worked well for majorities but has always led to a group of marginalised people who feel voiceless. We need to foster a range of mechanisms that reflect the nature of the decision to be made. If everyone is needed to clean up a river then everyone’s cultural strengths need to be at the table. It will take time to develop new ways of decision making which upholds the best from our cultures and traditions but it’s exciting. As a member of a so called “minority (women) which have always been 50% of the population I vote for that! Most of the groups I work in have been developing consensus tools but we don’t throw away any of our traditions.