Yes, we know about the Rotorua councillor’s resignation – but the legality of the mayor’s secrecy motion has gone unquestioned

Malcolm Harbrow, an admirably dogged campaigner against governmental secrecy on his No Right Turn blog, has drawn attention to something the mainstream media missed.

He has focused on the legality of Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick’s actions at a stormy meeting of the Rotorua Lakes Council.

RNZ is among the media which reported on the meeting, where a motion to move into confidential session over the controversial Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill triggered a councillor’s immediate resignation.

No Right Turn has provided a link to the council’s livestream recording of the meeting (from 4:15 to 8:15), so we can see for ourselves what happened.

It then notes that RNZ‘s focus is on the resignation, but something has been missed – the mayor’s secrecy motion:

At a full council meeting today, Chadwick moved to include a discussion about the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill into a confidential section of the meeting.

She said it was to “enable us all as council, together, to have a free and frank discussion in response to the attorney general’s request for further information needed to develop policy work”. Continue reading “Yes, we know about the Rotorua councillor’s resignation – but the legality of the mayor’s secrecy motion has gone unquestioned”

Democracy and voter equality is all Greek to Coffey – but he does favour tweaking the electoral system to give us a Treatocracy

Tamati Coffey, a Labour list MP and chairman of Parliament’s Māori Affairs Committee, may well be busy answering hundreds of letters. Point of Order therefore should be more patient while we await his responses to questions we put to him.

On the other hand, he may ignore all correspondence.

In that case we would have cause to be aggrieved because – as the chairman of a select committee – we understand that our taxes contribute to his Parliamentary salary of $179,713 plus an expenses entitlement of $16,980.

The questions we emailed to Coffey on Thursday last week were triggered by the recently published Local Government Commission’s determination for Rotorua.

This would result in three Māori Ward Councillors being elected in Rotorua’s local government elections, but (as Kiwiblog pointed out) without sacrificing the important principle of equality of suffrage. Continue reading “Democracy and voter equality is all Greek to Coffey – but he does favour tweaking the electoral system to give us a Treatocracy”

You thought voting rights and representation was a governance matter? Get to grips with the Treaty and sophistication

We were alerted by David Farrar to the further crumbling of local government democracy under the Ardern Government – or, as she would put it, to making our governance arrangements more sophisticated.

The outrage – or sophistication , depending on your ideology – goes further than Farrar reported in a post headed Parliament votes to end “one person, one vote” (although some of his readers picked up on it).

Yes, the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill abandons the key constitutional concept that all Kiwis have the same voting rights. 

But check out how the government opted to deal with legislation which prescribes how the people of Rotorua will be able to vote and how their council will be structured.  It is being treated as a Maori Affairs issue, not a local government issue.  

The job of Parliament’s Governance and Administration Committee is to look at business related to parliamentary and legislative services, Prime Minister and Cabinet, State services, statistics, internal affairs, civil defence and emergency management, and local government.

This committee, although chaired by National’s Ian McKelvie, has a Labour majority.

But at the bill’s first reading, Parliament voted to refer it to the Māori Affairs Committee.

The job of this committee is to look at business related to Māori affairs and Treaty of Waitangi negotiations.

It is chaired by Labour list MP Tamati Coffey.

And – guess what, dear reader? Continue reading “You thought voting rights and representation was a governance matter? Get to grips with the Treaty and sophistication”