The escalating transparency issues at Auckland Council are a sign that the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act is broken, and central Government must take steps towards reform by supporting National MP Denise Lee’s Member’s Bill that would strengthen Councillors ability to access Official Information.
Ms Lee, who is National’s Local Government (Auckland) Spokesperson, says the current system is not sustainable.
“We want our local government bodies to be effective and for the public to have confidence that their Councillors can do their job. But the current system makes it difficult for Councillors to access the information they need, which has caused tensions to rise to boiling point and put Auckland Council in the news for all the wrong reasons,” she says.
“With the Chief Ombudsman launching an investigation into the handling of the waterfront stadium report, we may see a resolution to this particular case. But that won’t solve the bigger problem and unless there are changes, we’ll see situations like this again.
“My Member’s Bill currently in the ballot offers an easy solution to this problem by removing many of the barriers faced by Councillors when requesting information.
“Earlier this week, at the height of the tensions, I tried to introduce my Bill to Parliament, but it was blocked by the Government.
“That’s disappointing. The issues at Auckland Council are a distraction and undermining ratepayers’ confidence – the Government should have made resolving the issues a priority.
“We have not seen any other proposed solutions, so I wonder how bad it has to get before the Government decides to act.
“Recent events have made this a high-profile issue, so I call on them to support my Bill and take the opportunity to make changes that would provide a long-term solution.”