Monday, October 14, 2013

Fix this politicians’ rort

One thing the recent local government elections demonstrated was how desperately reform is needed. For me, top of the list is fixing the election rort allowing double-dipping by Local Board members.

We need to change the law to prevent people from being elected to—and serving on and collecting salaries from—more than one Local Board at a time. This year, Grant Gillon was elected to both Local Boards he ran for and he will, indeed, serve on both and also collect two salaries. All voters should be outraged by this.

Yesterday, I said: “No one can do two Local Board jobs well or give adequate attention to two entirely different Local Boards. It’s an extreme disservice to voters in both Local Board areas.” While what Gillon’s doing is perfectly legal, it’s also true that not everything that’s legal is moral, ethical or right, and serving on two different Local Boards—and collecting two different salaries—is none of those things: It’s taking advantage of a loophole.

But Grant Gillon is not the issue here—he’s absolutely and completely irrelevant, in fact. Instead, the issue is that there’s no justification for allowing politicians to serve on more than one Local Board at the same time. Doing so cheats voters out of dedicated representation, which is what they were voting for.

Also, running for more than one Local Board, as many candidates did, was being dishonest to voters: How many voters would have voted for a candidate if they knew that, if successful, that politician would serve on multiple Local Boards and be paid multiple salaries? I’m certain that most voters believed that politicians could only serve on one Local Board—I did, and I’m reasonably well informed. After all, candidates elected to a Local Board and to the Auckland Council automatically give up their Local Board positions. I’m confident that most voters thought something similar was true for candidates elected to more than one Local Board, namely, that they could serve on only one Local Board.

We need a law change to fix this rort. While I still say that no one should be allowed to stand for more than one Local Board at a time, at the VERY least, no person should be allowed to serve on more than one Local Board at the same time.

Grant Gillon could do a lot to fix this problem in the short term: He could do the right and honourable thing and resign from one of the Local Boards he was elected to. Whether he does the right thing or not, the law must be changed to make sure that this never happens again.


Nick K said...

He could resign from Kaipatiki and let me jump on in his place đŸ˜€

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Funny you should say that, Nick: When I was reading the results and noticed you were ninth—just one resignation away from being back on the LB—that was precisely the scenario I thought of. Hm…