Auckland Council. What Price an Apology?

Every Anzac Day we hear politicians eloquently articulating the sacrifices made by gallant men who fought for their country and a thing called Democracy. Democracy in 600BC was a little different from Democracy today but it literally means now what it meant then —people power.
We have a NZ Bill of Rights that under Sections 13 and 14 gives citizens the right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression.
Every time there is a local body election news media accuse the public of apathy because of the low polls, but in some cases it’s cynicism not apathy. Many citizens who have put much thoughtful effort into making submissions, contacted their representatives to represent them on various issues, sought answers to serious questions but received replies full of dismissive obfuscation, eventually tune out.
In my case I was appalled when I discovered on 8 February 2013 that my emails to elected representatives were being blocked (and had been for 8 months). Here is what ensued:
8 Feb 2013 Discovered my emails to elected representatives were being blocked
11 Feb 2013 Advice from Jason Marris, Acting Manager Democracy Services, “there is no legal requirement for emails sent to a council email address to be
delivered unfiltered to that email address.”
21 Feb 2013 Letter to Chief Executive re blocking of emails to elected representatives
28 Feb 2013 Address by me to full Council on the issue.
1 Mar 2013 Denial by Chief Executive to NZ Herald that the council had blocked or censored anybody’s email.
13 Mar 2013 I addressed the Accountability & Performance Committee calling for an independent enquiry.
15 Mar 2013 Chief Exec, Doug McKay advised another ratepayer “There was never an intention to block emails or withhold information from elected members.”
23 May 3013 External Review presented to Councillors. The terms of reference were such that it did not address my complaint. It cost ratepayers $50,682.
14 Jun 2013 The Customer Relationship Manager contacted me to arrange a meeting.
12 Jul 2013 I sent a letter to all Councillors except Michael Goudie.
8 Aug 2013 I complained to the Ombudsman.
22 Nov 2013 The Ombudsman’s office advised me to write directly to the Chief Executive to seek an apology. I did so. The email trail begins at the bottom of the following enclosures (27 Nov)

Ref: 364049
Dear Doug,
An apology comes from the heart.
However, since you have insisted, in a letter dated 22 November 2013 from the Office of the Ombudsman, I was advised by Anthony Ilott, “In terms of your request for an apology, it would be open to you to write to the Chief Executive of the Council, explain your dissatisfaction and directly request an apology. If you are not satisfied with the response that you receive from the Chief Executive then it is open to you to write to this office again.”
Yours sincerely,
Gary Osborne.
From: Doug McKay
To: Gary Osborne
Sent: Friday, November 29, 2013 12:57 PM
Subject: RE: Apology
What advice from the Ombudsman Gary? Its quite simple, I haven’t seen that?

From: Gary Osborne []
Sent: Friday, 29 November 2013 11:34 a.m.
To: Doug McKay
Subject: Re: Apology

Dear Doug,
The matter is quite simple. Your directive stopped my emails to elected representatives being delivered to them. I’m most unhappy about that. I have asked you to apologise.
Yours sincerely,
Gary Osborne.
—– Original Message —–
From: Doug McKay
To: ‘’
Cc: Yvonne Parlane
Sent: Friday, November 29, 2013 6:47 AM
Subject: Re: Apology

What is the Ombudsman advice to you Gary. I can’t find any record of what it was specifically?

From: Gary Osborne []
Sent: Friday, November 29, 2013 05:53 AM
To: Doug McKay
Subject: Fw: Apology


—– Original Message —–
From: Gary Osborne
To: Doug McKay
Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 9:03 AM
Subject: Apology

27 November 2013

Mr Doug McKay,
Chief Executive,
Auckland Council.

Dear Sir,

Further to advice from the Office of the Ombudsman, I am writing to ask you to apologise to me for the directive you issued in 2012 that resulted in my emails to elected representatives failing to reach their addressees over a period of 8 months.
Yours sincerely,
Gary Osborne.

6 Dec 2013 The Ombudsman’s office rang me to say the matter of an apology had been raised by the Ombudsman’s office with the Council and was “under consideration.”

If there are impediments to contacting your elected representatives in a Democracy, it cannot function with accountability and transparency.
If power can be given to a bureaucrat to direct the blocking (or whatever euphemism is chosen) of communication with elected representatives then that Democracy sits on a shaky foundation.
Is a man worthy of an annual payment of $800,000 by ratepayers if he treats serious matters in such a dismissive way? Having insisted on seeing advice from the Ombudsman before tendering an apology, and having been provided with it, there has been silence from him for a week now.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s