Guest post by Stephen Berry
Auckland resident Rick Splinter has had his request for speaking rights at the Governing Body meeting of 27 February 2014 declined. The request has been declined by Deputy Mayor and Len Brown toady Penny Hulse.
What democracy do we really have in Auckland politics if a private individual cannot have a mere five minutes to address the Council and make his opinions known?
The official reason for the application to speak being declined was delivered by Governance Support Manager Jason Marris. It reads:
Your public input request for the 27FEB14 Governing Body meeting has been assessed by the Deputy Chair of the Governing Body, in conjunction with the Chief Executive, and the decision has been made to decline your request under Auckland Council Standing Order 3.21.3 which states:
3.21.3 Subjects of Public Input
Public Input is not to be used to speak to a matter:
(i) that has already been considered and determined.
Your request asked to speak on the actions of councillors to censure Mayor Brown. The matter regarding the Mayor was considered by the Governing Body and determined at their December 2013 meeting. Given that the Governing Body has already debated, deliberated and decided on the matter, your request has been declined.
Mr. Splinter argues against this decision saying, “At no stage has any Auckland ratepayer had any opportunity to speak on this matter to the council and accordingly, I view this to be a clear case of the deputy mayor running defence for Len Brown.”
I am in full agreement with Mr. Splinter. The discussions over censuring Mayor Brown were exclusively conducted amongst councillors without public input. All Aucklanders should have the opportunity, in a formal Governing Body setting -- if they wish to use it – to express their opinion on the legitimacy of Brown’s Mayoralty. Is a five minute speech really that much to ask?
It’s now clear Brown is attempting to restrict his activities to private ‘smile and wave’ events where he will not be challenged by outraged members of the public. Brown’s last two public events have been a private Rotary Club meeting on Monday -- and his “State of the City” address on Wednesday was done in front of an invited business audience, without any mention of how a lame-duck mayor is able to affect the city’s state. Meanwhile, after being roundly booed at the NRL Nines last weekend, the Herald’s front page reports that other event organisers are telling Len to stay away.
The Len Brown Stand Down March taking place this Saturday February 22 is your opportunity to visibly and vocally express your own opinion on the legitimacy of Brown’s Mayoralty. Marchers assemble at QE2 in Britomart from 11:30am, with the march leaving Britomart at noon, travelling up Queen Street to Airedale Street. With opinion polls showing consistently that 60-75% of Aucklanders believe Len Brown should resign, it promises to be a very successful march.