Is Auckland Council corrupting the consultation process

Auckland Council are as dumb as a bag of hammers and notorious law breakers of the highest order.

Last week I brought to the attention the absurdity of the Auckland Council Community Engagement survey for the Long Term Plan that included questions over funding alternatives for Auckland that – in my opinion – were deliberate and railroaded residents into voting for one of two options – (1) fuel tax; or (2) motorway congestion charges.

Auckland Council cannot do either of those things and the government has poured cold water on the ideas for years. But try they will.

Today I want to focus the gun sights on the lawfulness of the consultation.

Because it appears Auckland Council are again failing to fulfil their duties under the Local Government Act. Deliberately.

When I read the Local Government Act I am drawn to Sections 76AA, 82A and 95A which outline how consultation/engagement is supposed to be carried out.

While I may?not be a lawyer, it’s not rocket science and there are very specific requirements for Councils to fulfil in order to discharge their duties. One can’t simply issue a glossy printed brochure with some questions and expect that it will suffice.

For example – Section 76AA ‘Significance and Engagement Policy’ – sets out that before consultation a Council?must?adopt a policy that clearly outlines how the Council will undertake enagement with the community and in receiving back responses – how it will determine what that means. I doubt Auckland Council has a policy and I’d like to take a good look at it if it exists because this particular Council has a legacy of spin doctoring and the is every reason to suspect they will merely present the results of the consultation in a way that supports the pet projects they want.?? ?

Section 76AA also adds some layers of complexity. For example there is a requirement to list assets considered strategic by the local authority. My received engagement form contained no such thing.

Section 82 of the LGA then sets out that the Local Authority?must?make the following publicly available: (a) the proposal and the reasons for the proposal; and (b) an analysis of the reasonably practical options including the proposal, identified under section 77(1). I certainly didn’t receive any of these things either. So, how can I and others in Auckland be expected to make informed decisions? Where is the analysis? I’d love to see that!

Section 95A and 95B increase the expectations on Council’s where it concerns the information that is required to be transmitted with the consultation documents. So the Act is very very clear in the expectations that are upon a Council where it concerns community engagement.

The point is this. A Council is required to prepare a significant amount of information and follow a process when engagement with a community is undertaken. It is also required to have a very robust policy about how engagement responses are to be processed, to essentially demonstrate that it is treating the information in a neutral and unbiased manner and that would clearly and confidentally provide to the community the assurance that it is not going to twist the results to suit it’s own devices.

Auckland Council simply hasn’t done that at all.

The information is so woefully inadequate as to be redundant and a waste of resources. And, so the Council has again broken the law. That’s hardly a surprise because they are sneaky and furtive and really don’t give a toss what anyone else thinks.

If you or I broke the law, for example not filling in or filing tax returns, we pay the consequences in fines or prosecution but not Councils.

Auckland Council f?hrercrats think they can with this totally illegal engagement survey.

I have one word to sum it all up. Corrupt.

Perhaps we should investigate a private prosecution…since it seems there is actually no one to hold a council to account.