Local Government transparency and financial acumen

By Waikato Chamber CEO, Don Good

The Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, is a no nonsense ex-judge who has recently criticised several councils for their lack of transparency. 

We quote from his report of an investigation into their activities: 
“Conducting a great deal of council business behind closed doors, whether through workshops or public excluded meetings, can have a damaging effect on how open the community perceives a council to be. The appropriate use of meeting provisions and workshops is at the heart of openness and transparency. As set out in the purposes of the LGOIMA and LGA, it is crucial that councils conduct their business in an open and transparent manner so the public can see democracy in action, and participate in democratic processes. Local authorities in New Zealand should be open for business.”

Yet the Waipa District Council deputy CEO says a firm no to releasing data that informs Councillors and should inform ratepayers. Decision stands | Cambridge News. 

Is this the sort of council and staff transparency ratepayers deserve? It calls into question the integrity of the processes. The Cambridge News is quite right to investigate the transparency of Waipa Council further in the interests of all ratepayers.

Why? Because in Christchurch, local government reputation for fiscal prudence got a whole lot worse and the CEO and CFO have resigned. A recently published report by KPMG into one of the Christchurch Council’s departments is astonishing reading and can only reinforce ratepayers’ disgruntlement. Christchurch City Council chief financial officer resigns | RNZ News

Transparency disinfects perceptions of conflicts of interest, use of position to advance personal interest, poor managerial and governance practises and outcomes. Business expects local government to be open, respectful of its ratepayers and be prudent with our hard-earned rates. 

We are facing some huge hikes in rates across the country as poor decision-making by previous councils comes home to roost. 


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