Whoops: Should the Mayor and Deputy Mayor be able to vote on any future Airport Extension Proposal?

Yesterday’s brief blog has broken all records at Strathmore Park, peaking at nearly two thousand views an hour it has had thousands of you reading. Some of you have pointed out to me what you think is a breach of Council rules, particularly by the Deputy Mayor, and asked if both he, and the Mayor, should be allowed to vote on any future airport extension proposal.

Councillors are held to specific legislation and various forms of codes of conduct that cover a wide gambit of areas. The primary reasons for this are to ensure that we think they are above reproach and acting on our behalf as residents and to ensure that corruption cannot be allowed to take hold.

At the core of this legislation is the requirement for Mayor and Councillors to “keep an open mind” on issues. My words. This means that elected officials should not make up their minds without consulting with the community and ensuring that decisions also factor in all available information, in fact, demand adequate information be made available in order to reach a decision in voting.

This is the reason that the Councillors have shied away from taking a stand on any one particular issue. They won’t be drawn, publicly, on whether they think the airport extension is good or bad. None of them. Apart from, these two.

justinandcelia

Public interest

Members should serve only the interests of the city as a whole and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any one person, or group of persons.

Honesty and integrity

Members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.

Objectivity

Members should make decisions on merit including making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards or benefits.

Members should also note that, once elected, their duty is to the interests of the entire city.

Source

That picture above is part of Infratil’s September 2014 News Letter.

It features a page or two of notable Wellingtonians, who clearly have no idea what they are supporting, holding messages pro-extension. The Mayor is quoted as saying:

Stage one of this project is the accumulation of all the facts; economic, ecological and cultural. Stage two will be consultation and consenting. If the facts and the people of Wellington are supportive, stage three will be funding and construction.

Well, that has been a shambles so far. Stage one is not complete in my mind as all of the facts are still completely unknown and the industry view has been hundred percent negative. Air New Zealand has said they won’t bring long haul flights here and point out nine other airlines have left New Zealand, out of the Auckland hub, for the same reasons.

Stage two is meant to be consulting. We’ve seen a ridiculous attempt at this via the long term plan, which is completely questionable. In order to consult you must have all facts, we don’t, therefore any “consultation” must be inept and not worth the words created.

Couple that with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor having already made their minds up, it makes it worse. Particularly the Deputy Mayor who appeared to commit the city to a $90 million spend to make the airport extension happen, in the past few weeks.

Put simply, it’s my opinion that the Mayor, who is on the board of WIAL, and the Deputy Mayor, who arguably acts for her in that role from time to time, have shown a total bias toward the progression of the project, without having adequate information nor followed the consultation process. Doesn’t that break this rule?

Members should serve only the interests of the city as a whole and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any one person, or group of persons.

At best, both should have no opinion other than in the process. Just as the other Councillors have done.

Given they have adopted their position and actively promoted it, on behalf of a private company no less, while not completing consultation nor providing adequate facts, then the best thing that they could do is remove themselves from the process completely, and hand it over to another Councillor or Committee to manage.

Otherwise they risk breaking the objectives of the rule:

The objective of the code is to enhance:

the effectiveness of the council as the autonomous local authority with statutory responsibilities for the good local government of Wellington City

the credibility and accountability of the council within its community

It’s a very interesting conundrum.

They risk derailing what might be a good idea. Perhaps in interests of allowing the process to continue unimpeded, they should step aside. As should any other officer or elected official displaying the same.

Perhaps it’s time to OIA the gift register for Infratil.

Whatever the case, it needs to be tidied up and closed off in order to stop distraction.

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