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Does Anyone Understand Conflict Of Interest?

The last TCB meeting on 9 October was remarkable for the manner in which the failure to adhere to conflict on interest rules that are inherant and specific under the Local Authorities (Members Interests) Act 1968 was demonstrated in the most blatant manner. It demonstrates the manner in which adherence to the rules deteriorated under Leach, and now it appears to have become 'par for the course.'

Standing Orders are not optional' - Council, Boards and Committees are all required to adhere to them, and the two Acts - LGA and LA(MI)A and the senior Council officer present is required to have a full knowledge as to how they operate in order to be able to advise the Chairperson as to their application. Such did not appear to be the case on Tuesday when 'Rafferty's Rules' appeared to apply on several occasions during the meeting, and no one around the table objected - I suspect because all are equally ignorant of their application.

Two examples that come to mind was during the deliberation on the Kauaeranga Road Seal Extension. When the Board debated the funding of the DoC share of the work, Lester Yates, who is employed by DoC, and sits on the Board mumbled something about a possible 'conflict of interest,' that was immediately discounted by at least two others at the table, and sad to say, Lester then proceeded to weigh in with his views on the matter.

It was totally inappropriate for Lester to place himself in this position - it may have improved his standing with the local DoC manager who made the DoC submission, but it is totally wrong - an abrogation of the Chairperson's role, and a sad reflection on the ability of Area Manager - Gary Towler, who sat mute during the discussion.

This infringement was doubled down by the Chairperson herself when she decided to take the submitters seat to support the application for funding for the Steampunk Festival - an orgaisation that she appears to run, along with a number of other organisations - a testament to her skill, and energy.

But it does not gainsay the inappropriateness of her submitting to the Board in this manner when she had alongside her the manager of the Festival who appeared perfectly capable of making the submission, while Dianne recused herself from the deliberations. The allocation was made, by the way!

Eventually meetings can become chaotic when Standing Orders are ignored, and conflict of interest situations are no different.

For the record, conflict is defined under Section 6(1) of the Local Authorities (Members Interests) Act 1968 and:

"prohibits a member of a local authority or its committees from discussing or voting on a matter before the authority in which the member has a pecuniary interest other than an interest in common with the public."

That is clear, and fairly wide ranging, and should be applied in any situation such as those described above. This was not done, and there have been many other examples over recent meetings. Staff need to take a stronger hand in ensuring that the rules are followed. 


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Reader Comments (2)

No they do not understand conflict of interest. I wonder also if anyone understands this land tenure issue also and conflict of interest in relation to this.

October 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Sorry Anne - you will have to provide an URL for us, or some other linkage!

October 26, 2017 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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