Statistics Minister Interfering with Elections?

Interfering with Auckland‘s Local Government Elections from the Minister of Statistics



As soon as the preliminary Census Data findings were released yesterday did Statistics Minister (who would oversee the Census) drop a rant about Auckland’s population growth and use it as a tool to bash the City Rail Link and Unitary Plan.

You can see the Minister’s rant in part here:

Census calls rail loop into question

By Isaac Davison @Isaac_Davison 5:30 AM Tuesday Oct 8, 2013

Reduced growth figures suggest revision of Auckland’s infrastructure plans needed, claims Statistics Minister.

Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson says new Census data which show that New Zealand population growth has halved since the last Census could prompt revision of Auckland’s infrastructure plans such as an increase in high-rise apartments and the construction of a city rail loop.

But Auckland Council is standing by its plans for growth, saying that Auckland is expected to grow faster than the rest of the country.

The council’s planning for the next 30 years is based on the prediction that the number of residents will grow by 1 million.

Mr Williamson said the first Census data in seven years indicated that this projection was far too high.

Statistics New Zealand figures released yesterday showed that on Census night, there were 214,101 more people in New Zealand than at the previous Census in 2006. This meant the population had grown by 31,000 a year over the past seven years, compared to 58,000 a year in the previous period of 2001 to 2006.

“This is a huge surprise – bigger than Ben Hur,” Mr Williamson said. “It’s nearly half the growth rate that everyone had been basing their historic numbers on.


Already debunked all that twice now and not really willing to do it a third time.


What I will post however is two “replies” to the Minister stepping into an area that he should clearly not:

From the Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Auckland Plan Committee (that oversees the Unitary Plan) Penny Hulse:

  • Rule number one: Ministers of Statistics are not meant to use statistics for political purposes.

  • Rule number two: Ministers should use the correct information. Williamson doesn’t realise that the figures used for the Unitary plan are based on Stats NZ forward projections. These figures will not be available until next year. The census data as presented is not directly relevant to the plan. It is prudent to plan for growth and as all the experts are saying, we have so far exceeded growth projection since 1991. If growth slows, so does development, no problem….we still need to plan a city around good transport and affordable housing choices.


From an Activist and Commentator:

It could be possibly understand that Maurice Williamson has annoyed several of his colleagues by using his position as Statistics Minister to wade into the mayoral debate to help John Palino, and take a swing at Len Brown.

Williamson has effectively questioned the viability of the Government’s agreement with the Council over the City Rail Link, which the Government wanted (the issue) taken off the table (Unless it wants to give the Centre-Left free ammunition for continuous free hits that should not need to have happened). Even more annoyingly for the Government, Williamson’s clumsy decision to take a swing at Brown using dodgy figures.

As Williamson knows, immigration flows are cyclical. In the last three years, New Zealand has had low migration because we have been at the bottom of the migration cycle. All the current projections are that migration is picking up again, quickly, as happens in any cycle.

It is dishonest of Williamson to suggest that long-term, New Zealand migration flows, and therefore Auckland population levels, will remain at constant lows. Williamson might be regretting that he bottled his opportunity to go after the Mayoralty himself when he had the chance, but he needs to remember that he’s a Government Minister, part of a Government that has to work with New Zealand’s largest city, and not Palino’s campaign sponsor.


I have relayed those points as I agree with them. Williamson is interfering as a Minister of the Crown in Auckland’s Local Elections with his rather dim-witted rant. Already Auckland’s voting turnout is at (as of now) 22.42% compared to 33.8% in 2010 we don’t need a Minister’s rant and incorrect information putting people off – we already have enough of that from aspects of the media and some candidates. Speaking of which I see the Main Stream Media are quoting Williamson without fact-checking – typical…


Furthermore Williamson’s rant can put a chill on consumer and business confidence if we see mucking around and interference. While iPredict does show Len on a 96.9% chance of winning mayor for a second term thus Williamson’s rant as possibly as much of a side issue as berms/verges, again we do not need any more crap being thrown around giving further risk to chilling voters, consumers and businesses.


Let me, the people, voters and businesses decide in Auckland decide what they want with their elected representatives for Auckland. Not some Minister who should have been put out to pasture a long time ago…