A pro-museum interpretation of the 60/40 museum referendum result is being challenged by the council’s City Transformation Committee chairman and museum advocate, Larry Baldock.
Sixty per cent of eligible voters who took part in the non-binding referendum voted against the museum, but Larry is taking encouragement from the fact the ‘no’ vote represents only 18 per cent of eligible voters.
The majority of the 40 per cent in favour of a new museum, who represent 12.65 per cent of all eligible voters, want it at Cliff Road.
“Regarding the location of a museum, the results are confused because it is clear that 2728 of those who voted ‘no’ to council including a museum in the LTP also voted for either Cliff Road or Willow Street as a location for the museum they do not want,” says Larry.
“When those ‘no’ voters are removed from the location issue, the results of ‘yes’ voters by Cliff Road is 55 per cent, and Willow Street 46 per cent.
“It also appears that there were some voters who so strongly support a museum they ticked both Cliff Road and Willow Street, perhaps in an attempt to send a clear message of ‘I don’t care where, as long as its somewhere’.”
If council decide to proceed with a museum, the one message they can take from the referendum is that Cliff Road will be acceptable to the majority of those in favour of a museum.
There were 4,956 online voters, which is 16.67 per cent of the total votes cast. Predictions and hopes of this having a great effect on voter turnout in the council by-election did not eventuate, as 2064 or 41.65 per cent of online referendum voters did not also vote in the by-election.
“We cannot, of course, know the opinion of the almost 70 per cent of eligible voters who did not take part,” says Larry.
“If this referendum of only 31 per cent of eligible voters is somewhat representative of the whole population of the city, then we must ask ourselves as we continue in the LTP process, is 41 per cent support enough for us to continue to prepare for a museum in this city?
“We are not elected to only serve the wishes of a majority in the city.
“We are to endeavour to meet the needs and desires of the whole community and it is time we paid attention to aspirations of this patient 40 per cent that have been waiting, in some cases for decades, for this great city to have a place to tell its history, its story and the so many other stories of the wonderful men and women who have lived here.”
Councillors are this week beginning hearing the submission on the Long Term Plan and are required to keep an open mind until they make their final decisions on June 26.