I have an obligation…

A couple of months after Phil’s tenth birthday,?a great orator gave an inspiring and impassioned speech that repeated the words, “I have a dream…”

Possibly, Phil had words from that speech in his mind when, on?TVNZ’s Q+A programme, he repeated, “I’ve got an obligation…”? Words like, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Who knows?? But this is what the Mayor of Auckland said: Quote.

I’ve got an obligation to promote a city that is inclusive.

I’ve got an obligation to protect ethnic, religious minorities who are being brought into contempt, who are being abused, provoked and insulted by the language these people [Southern and Molyneux] are using. End of quote.

Where do these obligations arise?

The first place to look is the act that created Auckland City, the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009.

A quick online search in that act for “obligation” gave no results for the mayor so I turned to the section nine of the act that dealt with the Mayor of Auckland: Quote.

(1)?The role of the mayor is to?
(a)?articulate and promote a vision for Auckland; and
(b)?provide leadership for the purpose of achieving objectives that will contribute to that vision.
(2)?Without limiting subsection (1), it is the role of the mayor to?
(a)?lead the development of Council plans (including the LTP and the annual plan), policies, and budgets for consideration by the governing body; and
(b)?ensure there is effective engagement between the Auckland Council and the people of Auckland, including those too young to vote.
(3)?For the purposes of subsections (1) and (2), the mayor has the following powers:
(a)?to establish processes and mechanisms for the Auckland Council to engage with the people of Auckland, whether generally or particularly (for example, the people of a cultural, ethnic, geographic, or other community of of interest):
(b)?to appoint the deputy mayor:
(c)?to establish committees of the governing body:
(d)?to appoint the chairperson of each committee of the governing body and, for that purpose, the mayor?
(i)?may make the appointment before the other members of the committee are determined; and
(ii)?may appoint himself or herself:
(e)?to establish and maintain an appropriately staffed office of the mayor.
(4)?The mayor must exercise the power in subsection (3)(e)?
(a)?in consultation with, and acting through, the Council?s chief executive; […] End of quote.

Hmmm… there was nothing there about Phil’s stated obligations. There is, however, a duty (obligation) to promote a vision for Auckland, so we need to look at that.

The mayoral vision for Auckland includes the phrase, “Our goal is for Auckland to be inclusive so that all can share in its benefits and reach their potential.”

So, there we have it: a city that is inclusive so that all can share in its benefits. All, that is, unless Phil disagrees with your point of view, I guess.

Remember, though, that this ‘obligation’ is one that Phil imposed upon himself. It is not an externally imposed statutory obligation.

Next Phil says he has an obligation to protect…

A quick online search in that act for “protect” gave no results for the mayor so I returned to the mayoral vision. Another quick search for “protect”, and another zero result.

Maybe it is the police who protect people by enforcing national laws that are designed to protect people? It does not seem to be a mayoral duty.

Let’s return to the closing words of Martin Luther King: Quote.

From every mountain [maunga], let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!?Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! End of quote.

Free to use public facilities to say things that the mayor does not agree with but which, nevertheless, are legal.

As Rachel rightly states: Quote.

Without freedom of speech, there would have been no civil-rights movement.?End of quote.

And we would never have heard about his dream.