Democracy Voted Down

An attempt by Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers to allow the public formal speaking rights about Auckland Council’s spending plans for the next 10 years was narrowly defeated 10 votes to 9.

Auckland Council intends to hold a number of informal “Have Your Say” events between 28 February and 28 March next year to capture public opinion about Mayor Goff’s proposed 10 Year Budget and vision statement, called the Auckland Plan.

The decisions on how Auckland Council would engage with the public were debated on Tuesday 21 November at the Finance and Performance Committee meeting.

Cr Sayers wanted included a formal process whereby members of the public could speak directly to the decision makers, being the Mayor and the Councillors.

“This is about retaining democracy at the core of Council’s processes,” said Sayers. “The people of Auckland should be allowed the opportunity to speak face to face with the politicians if they wish to.”

Sayers was successful in winning an amendment 10 votes to 9 allowing Aucklanders a formal hearing process as part of the public opinion capturing process.

Cr Daniel Newman was supportive saying it was important to give people the opportunity to speak formally about their submissions to Council and to introduce an egalitarian approach to public consultation and democratic engagement.

Albany ward Councillor John Watson said it was unfair to cut out individuals of the public from being able to speak directly to the Governing Body of Auckland.

Mayor Goff was not in support saying he was not prepared to attend formal events which may only have a few people in attendance when he could go to less formal events with more people in attendance to give feedback.

Having won the adoption of formal hearings to be included as part of the public input process the Councillors had to vote a second time to ratify its adoption. In a strange turn of events Sir John Walker changed his vote and the motion was consequently lost 10 votes to 9 and public hearings were removed from the public engagement process.

The way they voted:
The councillors who voted for Public Hearings were: Christine Fletcher, Mike Lee, Daniel Newman, Dick Quax, Greg Sayers, Desley Simpson, Sharon Stewart, Wayne Walker, and John Watson.

The councillors who voted against were: Ross Clow, Bill Cashmore, Efeso Collins, Linda Cooper, Chris Darby, Alf Filipaina, Mayor Phil Goff, Sir John Walker, Richard Hills, and Independent Maori Statutory Board Member David Taipari.