2016 - Articles

Various articles re Local Govt

Electoral Apartheid by Decree by Dr Muriel Newman 25/9/16

Race appointees ammo for Winston by Mike Butler 25/9/16

Local Body Developments by Dr Muriel Newman 17/7/16

A Grab for the Gulf by Fiona Mackenzie 17/7/16

Standing Up for Democracy by Dr Muriel Newman 19/6/16

Whatever this is, it’s not democracy by Karl du Fresne 19/6/16

Undemocratic Mayors By Dr Muriel Newman 8/5/16

Tribalising local government by Mike Butler 8/5/16

Maori council seats vote petition by Mike Butler 12/4/16


Nelson Mail article 9/10/16 (The three letters below relate to this article)


The appointments of non-elected members to Nelson City Council committees at a cost of $36,000 a year marks the ‘‘commencement of the whittling away of our democracy’’, a councillor says.

The council voted to re-appoint three external members to committees and grant them voting rights at the inaugural meeting on Thursday.

Councillor Mel Courtney was the only one who voted against motion, asking: ‘‘Do we really need them?’’

He said the appointees were well qualified and highlyrespected, but had concerns about non-elected, ratepayer-funded members entering council ‘‘through the back door’’.

Courtney said it signalled the ‘‘whittling away of our democracy’’.

‘‘Their worth to me is unknown, their achievements .... I don’t know. The need is not being established as far as I’m concerned,’’ he said. ‘‘Who do these external appointees represent, who are they answerable to?’’

Council administration manager Penny Langley said external appointees brought unique knowledge, skills and experience to the council and provided an ‘‘extra layer of rigour around processes and investigations’’.

Mayor Rachel Reese said the external members were ‘‘very effective’’ in the past term. They were appointed by the council in June 2014 and are each paid $12,000 a year. The council has an annual budget of $39,378 for external appointees.

‘‘There are some skills, knowledge and experience that we do need to draw on from the community to ensure that we can be as effective as we possibly can be,’’ Reese said.

Councillor Gaile Noonan said she was ‘‘very dubious’’ about appointing non-elected members last term, but had come to value their input. The external appointees are John Murray, John Peters and Glenice Paine.

Murray is a chartered accountant and experienced board member. Peters has worked with private and government boards and experienced in performance monitoring and risk management, compliance and mitigation. Paine is an accredited resource management commissioner. She is the chair of Te Atiawa o Te Waka-a-Maui Trust and has been a member of boards of inquiry for applications to the Environmental Protection Authority. Reese said Paine also brought a ‘‘broad Maori world view’’ to resource management decision-making. The external members have been re-appointed to the governance, planning and regulatory committees and the audit, risk and finance and commercial sub-committees.
By Jonathan Carson

Nelson Mail 1/11/16
I find myself agreeing with Cr Mel Courtney on his first day back as a councillor regarding non-elected members of NCC committees (Nelson Mail, October 29). I have always been aware and accepted that it was the practice to get "expert" opinion onto some committees, but completely unaware that these "experts" were paid and had a vote - how does one get on that gravy train?

Most important to me is that it is undemocratic to allow anyone other than those elected by the constituency to have a vote. This sets a dangerous precedent for all kinds of groups to request or demand unelected representation on council - remember the furore over the suggestion that we institute a Maori Ward in Nelson? Council needs to backtrack on this practice with haste - paid I agree with - voting rights I protest vehemently.

So now the process of appointing "freeloaders" following local body elections has become custom and practice. Just where, has this arrogant nonsense come from?

Elected councillors face a rigorous and expensive process to actually get elected to office and yet the aforementioned "freeloaders" who already have substantial incomes, merely have to turn up at the trough and they are accorded the same rights as the elected councillors.

Do the mayor and councillors not understand that the $36,000 of ratepayer money they casually toss at these non elected individuals actually comes from ratepayers who are quite often struggling to pay the exorbitant demands of councils right around the country? Often these people have to apply for rates relief, they are that poor.

Councillor Mel Courtney, take a bow. Mayor and other councillors, take a good hard look in the mirror.

Councillor Courtney is right. Unless there is a better explanation to the issues he raised about three people being appointed (not elected) to roles on council committees there are likely to be two consequences.

First, the three people occupying those positions will damage their own reputations by serving in a role where they know the public have a reasonable expectation that only elected representatives answerable to the voting public will serve.

Second, there will be 11 councillors and one mayor who can thank their lucky stars that the election is behind them and not in front of them. They should provide a better explanation or correct their mistake now.