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Thursday, 29 May 2008

ACC: PARTISAN NOT IMPARTIAL

Under the Local Government Act 2002 everyone elected to a local-body position must make the same statutory promise when sworn in: 'I [name] declare that I will faithfully and impartially, and according to the best of my skill and judgement, execute and perform, in the best interests of [the name of the commmunity], the powers, authorities and duties vested in or imposed upon me ... by virtue of the Local Government Act 2002 [etc]'

Which means that the council on our western horizon, Auckland City Council, has been operating contrary to law for years, because it has long been dominated by parties--Citizens & Ratepayers and City Vision, which are just National/Act and Labour under different names.

Auckland councillors who belong to those parties are therefore by definition partisan, which means they cannot possibly be impartial. Nor, if they are voting according to party lines and kept to them by party whips, can they be acting according to the best of their individual skill and judgement. They are acting according to party ideology or policy. They are in breach of their statutory oath right from the start.

Only councils made up of independents are in accord with the letter and spirit of the Act. Only in such councils can there be true democratic debate. Only in such councils can there be true consultation, because that requires listening, and that can hardly happen when councillors are fitted in advance with party ear-plugs.

The council on our eastern horizon, Thames-Coromandel District Council, is 100% independents, and it is very refreshing to watch their deliberations. They are individuals, each debates according to the best of his or her individual skill and judgement. And they emphasise again and again and again the 'four well-beings' which the Act commands them to promote (social, economic, environmental and cultural, in section 10).