Time for a recall option

The Taxpayers’ Union has called for the implementation of a recall option for local body politics.

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on the Government to give local communities the ability to petition for recall elections, after Len Brown’s latest snub to ratepayers has hit the headlines. The Herald on Sunday is reporting that Len Brown has had a private bathroom and dressing room installed behind a bookshelf in the Mayor’s office. The secret rooms have cost ratepayers $30,000.

The Union’s Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“A secret dressing room, complete with a two seater couch, is a luxury lair, not value for money for ratepayers.”

“Councillors have already censured Len Brown for misusing funds but clearly the line in the sand is being ignored. Mr Brown’s refusal to talk to media says a lot about his respect for ratepayers and his fellow councillors.”

“It’s time the Government gave ratepayers a voice between elections. A recall option would enable ratepayers to petition for a vote to fire a shameless politicians who lacks any respect for those who pay the bills.”

John Key has stated he is opposed to recall, and says it is too difficult to implement.

It isn’t too difficult for David Cameron, Key’s mate, to implement. The UK is drafting law now for the implementation of recall.

John Key needs to do research too because it appears that it isn’t that difficult to implement in the USA, the UK, Venezuela, Canada, and Switzerland.

As Wikipedia says “Recalls, which are initiated when sufficient voters sign a petition, have a history dating back to the ancient Athenian democracy and are a feature of several contemporary constitutions.

So why not our democracy?

What is so hard about recall legislation?

Surely a recall election is so much more effective as a tool of democracy than petitions and referenda.

It is time for John Key to put this tool in the hands of the voters to better control dodgy mayors and councillors. It would certainly be far more cost effective than Wellington’s proposed Super City amalgamation.


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  • Whafe

    Let’s us start a Whaleoil recall partition on Survey Monkey etc etc

  • symgardiner

    I’d support a recall option BUT… there needs to be a limit on the number of times it can be activated in an elected official’s term. We don’t want the 10% endlessly initiating recalls. So maybe you get one shot at a recall petition per term. And the %age needs to be reasonable substantial.

    • Euan Ross-Taylor

      Maybe something like a set time a recall election can be held like midterm? With the petition being completed within 15 months of a mayors term. This might keep mayors more careful of perceptions. Also would need clear guidelines as to just what would constitute grounds for recall. Definitely doable.

  • peterwn

    There is only two years to wait for a recall. In any case what is the use of a recall if the centre right in Auckland cannot get its act together and find a decent Mayoral candidate – and why should the organisational arm of the National Party bail out the shortcomings of local centre right political activists and politicians – it rather seemed last time that the business / centre right community in Auckland could not even organise a drink up at the Bairds Road/ Great South Road corner. Trouble is with a ‘recall’ provision is it will provide Penny Bright, John Minto etc with another ‘handle’ with which to cause trouble.

    • Exactly. As I’ve said before, it opens up a can of worms. If you nailed down people based on pre-election ‘promises’, with recalls only being allowed if they broke them, it would at least place some limits. It would force local politicians to nail their colours to the mast. Len Brown has broken his promise around rates. That could be legitimate grounds for a recall. But simply being a loser, that doesn’t justify a recall (we already knew he was one and didn’t really care about ratepayers or council finance). Otherwise, we’ll end up with a new mayor who’s decent, and the losers will simply recall away. And a numeric limit doesn’t solve this, as you could have a recall, then find out something further egregious, and have no recourse.

  • BJ

    It is a fact that those that perceive they have vision for big ideas nearly always lack insight into the reality of outcome and costs. It is hard to find leaders that have the balance between initiating big ideas and self-discipline when it comes to spending other people’s money.
    Along with blatant corruption, behaviour that shows a complete disregard for wanton spending should be met with a swift removal from office and in future a good long hard look should be taken at the personal financial, past business practises or previous public service role, of any individual keen on office to sift out the ones that are not fit for office.

  • hunk4hire .

    The dressing room/bathroom is expertly concealed so that a casual visitor to the mayoral office would be totally unaware of its existence except for the curious flushing sound coming from the bookcase.

    • JustTinkering

      I believe than if an Executive Washroom and ironing facilities had been installed for Mayor, Councillors and Management there would have been general agreement.
      Ignoring Len for a moment no Mayor should have that degree of personal pampering. And taking Len into account. with his past record, it’s even more important that what is seen is even handed.
      While the excuse is the decision was made by Council Management that’s weak and a cop-out. Can you imagine Len not knowing?

      • Albert Lane

        So what about the Ngati Whatua room? Did that get shifted to the new building too? And if it has been shifted, is it far from Len’s office?

      • peterwn

        It was installed for the Mayor as the CEO no doubt wants a similar facility in his new office. The CEO will also probably want a lift assigned for his personal use.

  • Salacious Crumb

    Maybe a quorum rule should apply. Having Pants Down re-elected off the back of a 30% voter turnout shows how unengaged the local body election voters were. They surely will be the next time but maybe a result should only be validated if there is at least a 50% voter turnout?

    • Frank N Further

      I am not sure if a quorum rule would be practical – an invalid election would demand another election, and another, and another, until the quorum was met. A recall system also has fish hooks – e.g. would it be open only to those who did vote, or all on the roll?
      Unfortunately in any election you get the result you deserve, As an Auckland voter, who did vote, the low voter turnout disappoints me. It indicates a lack of interest on the democratic process. But when the likes of Lens extra-ciricular activity, and uncontrolled spending, gets highlighlighted then there are squeels from all quarters.
      There appears parrallels with the losing Right wing in the Auckland Council elections and the losing Left wing in the General election. If you don’t vote, you shouldn’t complain. The time to be heard was during the election period.

    • Mainstream Mike

      50% ratepayer turnout.

  • mike

    Government should step in themselves. They can see the harm that Brown is doing, surely under the local government act they have the right to take away the mayor and councils powers and assign their own governing body.

    • Mainstream Mike

      Right. And that should have been done the day after the general election – if not the day after the fraudulent mayoral election.

  • Bluemanning

    Considering the hate of John Key by the Greens/Labour and the MSM how quickly would they attempt and orchestrate a recall on John Key?

    • They might attempt it, but even if all the Greens, Labours & NZ Firsts Voters signed the petition, it still wouldn’t make their candidates to replace him electable.

  • Mainstream Mike

    Recall is just mucking about at the edges. We need a ratepayer franchise, at a minimum: ideally we need to get rid of the idea of city councils all together – and go back to essentially private city corporations that were companies governed under the companies act like any other company.

    If Fonterra chooses to build a secret bathroom for it’s CE, that’s fine; if a private Auckland Corporation wants to do that too, it’s fine too.