Perhaps this can best be answered by retracing the past.
In July 2004 a Waitakere City ratepayer complained about the conduct of Councillor Ross Dallow. His complaint was addressed to the Conduct Review Board. The eventual outcome of that complaint was a letter from Bob Harvey dated 26 July 2004 stating “It would appear to me that he was meeting with you in his role as Chairman of the Sports Trust and not in his role as a Councillor of this city. Therefore, I have referred your letter to him.”
In December 2006 I complained about Councillors Penny Hulse and Linda Cooper failing to declare a conflict of interest. Here is the outcome of that complaint:
WAITAKERE CITY COUNCIL
CODE OF CONDUCT
COMPLAINTS REVIEW BOARD
Complaints Review Board: Mayor Bob Harvey, Deputy Mayor Carolynne Stone, Philip Griffiths
Complainant: Mr Gary Osborne
On 22 December 2006 Mr G A Osborne lodged a written complaint with the Chief Executive alleging that Councillors Hulse and Cooper had breached the Code of Conduct by failing to register their interest as members of The Digital Earth New Zealand Society Incorporated (“Digital Earth”) in the annual statement of interests required to be filed by them under the Code of Conduct by 31 January 2006.
The Group Manager: Democracy and Support Services advises that:
Digital Earth was incorporated on 15 September 2005 and that Councillors Hulse
and Cooper were among the 15 persons who signed the application for
incorporation in their capacity as “members” of the unincorporated society.
An inspection of the Council’s Register of Interests showed that neither
Councillors Hulse nor Cooper, nor the Mayor or any other Councillors, had filed
the updated annual statement which was required to be filed by them by 31
The Board has considered the information presented to it by Council officers relating to the complaint including;
(a) The letter from Mr Osborne dated 22nd December 2006 containing the
(b) A summary of facts relating to the complaint;
(c) Written submissions from Councillor Hulse on behalf of both Councillors Hulse and Cooper.
(d) A copy of the Letter from the Office of the Auditor General dated 14th February 2007, to Mr A Bhatnagar re the Digital Earth Conference.
2. The finding of the Board on the specific complaint is:
(a) The context of the complaint does not give rise to any issues relating to conflicts of interest.
(b) In particular it is noted that there is no conflict of interest (either pecuniary or non-pecuniary) at issue and the integrity of the Councillors concerned is not in question.
(c) The likelihood of any conflict ever arising, even in the broad terms as defined in the Code, as a result of the Councillors membership of Digital Earth is very unlikely.
(d) That Councillors Hulse & Cooper did not note their membership of Digital Earth in the Register of Interests.
(e) That this amounts to an omission of form rather than substance and in the circumstance outlined is considered to be a minor technical breach of the Code.
(f) That the omission was inadvertent and not assisted by the failure of the Council administration staff to send reminders to the Mayor and Councillors generally that such action was required in accordance with the Code.
(g) That the omission to file is shared in common with all other members of the Council.
(h) That no further action in relation to the complaint is required other than notification of this decision to the Complainant and the Councillors concerned.
3. As a result of the issues arising from this complaint the Board comments as follows
(a) That it be recommended to the Mayor/Councillors that the Code of Conduct be
(b) That the Chief Executive Officer implement a process for reminding the
Mayor & Councillors of the requirement to file an annual Register of Interests
and to update the register as required.
Board of Review decision dated 28 February 2007:
Mayor Bob Harvey Deputy Mayor Carolynne Stone Philip Griffiths
Shortly after this the Code of Conduct was reviewed and took away the right of the public to lodge formal complaints.
On 16 August 2010 I complained about the atrocious email from Linda Cooper to both the CEO and Bob Harvey asking for action to be taken. Here is Bob Harvey’s response:
Dear Mr Osborne,
No, I do not intend to take any action at all on this matter.
Councillor Cooper is taking advice from our Legal Services which is right and appropriate.
The CE is also well aware of the situation and I am more than happy that it is being dealt with.
If a Code of Conduct is to be taken seriously, it must be treated seriously.
By 1 November 2010 ATA is charged with the responsibility of having in place a Code of Conduct for Auckland Council. Will it be taken seriously? Let’s hope so.
Here is the response from ATA (Auckland Transition Agency) advisor Terry Sugrue.
“I can assure you that there will be mechanisms in place to ensure that complaints from members of the public with regard the conduct of elected members are appropriately dealt with. The Mayor, Councillors and Local Board Members will all be required to comply with the Auckland Council’s Code of Conduct.”
Now that’s encouraging!
Linda Cooper, it’s never too late to apologise, or do you still see nothing wrong with your email.