Is Auckland Council complying with the Public Records Act

Published: Mon 24 Sep 2018 12:36 PM
Petition Handover: “Is Auckland Council complying with the Public Records Act 2005?”
Hon Nikki Kaye will receive a petition on Wednesday 26 September on the steps of Parliament, calling for The House of Representatives to inquire into whether Auckland Council has failed to comply with the statutory requirements of section 17(1) of the Public Records Act 2005.
Kaye says she agrees with the thrust of the petition in that it’s important to have as much transparency as possible at the Auckland Council, saying she had her own concerns about issues at the council regarding official information arising from her constituency work as the MP for Auckland Central.
The petition has been set up by Lisa Er and Alan William Preston on behalf of well known activist Penny Bright, who on August 31st was given one to six days to live, and is currently in Auckland Hospital.
“Open the books,” was Penny Bright’s catch phrase and this petition is continuing her very valuable work insisting on transparency.
Penny asserts that The Public Records Act is not being fully implemented and enforced in New Zealand.
Ratepayers have a right to know how their money is being spent.
NZ law is very clear on this requirement for transparency in public spending:
Requirement to create and maintain records
(1) Every public office and local authority must create and maintain full and accurate records of its affairs, in accordance with normal, prudent business practice, including the records of any matter that is contracted out to an independent contractor.
The petition requests that the House of Representatives undertake an urgent inquiry into whether Auckland Council has failed to comply with the statutory requirements of section 17(1) of the Public Records Act 2005.
Bright has argued that private procurement, or “contracting out” of public services, formerly provided in-house by staff directly employed under the public service model, is often done under contract management. If there is no cost-benefit analysis which proves that privatisation is more cost-effective for the public majority of taxpayers and ratepayers, then questions must be asked.
“How can ratepayers check for cost-effectiveness in the spending of public funds, if we can’t follow the money” says Preston.
Despite Bright’s ongoing investigations since 2008, and more recently Preston’s inquiries under the Official Information Act, we are still unable to ascertain whether Auckland Council is complying with the legislation.
“It is of interest that the Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, is warning councils there will be a tighter focus on their obligations under Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. We are now highlighting another area that requires government investigation” says Er.
Nikki Kaye will accept the petition on the steps of Parliament Wednesday 26 September at 1.45pm.

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