Former ARC Councillor Bill Burrill is not the first dodgy ratbag Councillor to trough from abuses of power to his own pecuniary advantage in recent years.
A few years back in 2009 Council Watch was calling for a number of Councillors from the Canterbury Regional Council to be prosecuted and sacked from their positions after an investigation by the Auditor General Lyn Provost found that four individuals had broken the law by acting in conflict with their official role.
Back then those Canterbury Councillors failed to declare a conflict on interest that lead to a financial benefit for themselves by participating in discussion and voting on proposals before Council.
Under investigation the Auditor General’s office chose not to prosecute stating that whilst the Councillors should have withdrawn as a matter of principle – they had each received and shared legal advice that they could participate.
And here in lies the problem. The Auditor General and Office of the Ombudsmen publish clear guidelines for Councillors and council staff but the reality is that the law is erroneously filled with holes that are exploited and there is precious little oversight of Local Government leading to the Auditor General loathing to bother and the Court’s uninterested.
Why this is concerning is that whilst central Government politicians are placed under the spotlight and sometimes prosecuted for their actions (think Taito Phillip Field by way of example) there appears to be virtually no scrutiny of politicians at a local level.
“A widespread and systemic lack of compliance for the law exists within Local Government” noted Council Watch back in 2009. Read more »