Don’t let anyone say that corruption isn’t rife in local government

Don’t let anyone say that corruption isn’t rife in local government.

Two men were yesterday jailed for their role in the country’s largest bribery case and Auckland Transport revealed six other staff left their jobs after investigations began into the scandal.

The episode has triggered warnings from the Serious Fraud Office that the case has not been completely closed – and that corruption required a toxic culture to grow.

Former Auckland Transport senior manager Murray Noone and Projenz managing director Stephen Borlase were sentenced at the High Court at Auckland to five years and five years six months respectively after being found guilty of bribery and corruption.

Noone’s request for a two-week delay in starting his sentence until his ankle was cut out of a cast put on after surgery was denied. He left the dock for prison hobbling on crutches.

The pair had been found to have engaged in a seven-year corrupt relationship where Projenz would make regular payments to Noone, overall amounting to more than $1m, while the latter was employed at council-owned organisations overseeing contracts awarded to Borlase’s firm.

Let’s not forget that there are other forms of corruption that go on every day by council workers where money isn’t exchanged, but power is exerted upon people without the legal right to do so.

Malfeasance and misfeasance.

Malfeasance is knowing the law, limitations of law and ignoring it to exert power upon another anyway.

Misfeasance is ignorantly not knowing the law and exerting power.

Such as when councils process Resource Consents. More often than not planners regularly commit malfeasance and misfeasance.

This happens because most council planners are lacking the skills and training in Resource Management law leading to their own interpretation and opinions influencing how they assess applications.

Rather than the law telling the planner the correct process, limitations and interpretations – planners most often assume their own world view.

Sometimes they know the law but ignore it because there is nobody to police them – what happens if they ignore the law? Nothing.

But mostly they just don’t know it.

In other examples, councils themselves can break the law knowingly and nothing happens. Like when they discharge sewage into rivers above allowable standards or do works without a consent like everyone else has to obtain. It’s all an offence.

When the law is broken by council officers it is corruption. It’s a type of corruption.

And it’s a culture in NZ local government. We’ve all experienced it. This culture creates the environments where clowns like Murray No-one start to think they can accept bribes in return for contracts.

Big corruption starts in little places. The ignoring of the rule of law. Which our local government officials are really good at doing.

I think the problem is that we don’t police local government. We police and fine citizens for all manner of things like parking tickets but then an entire section of society can go to work and blatantly ignore the law because there are no consequences with flow-on effects to cost and productivity in NZ.

 

-NZ Herald

 


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