Representation Commission findings: "Bizzare, illogical & factually wrong" - 6/04/2007Mayor Michael Laws today slammed the Representation Commission for its "bizarre, illogical and factually fallacious findings" relating to the representation arrangements for the Wanganui District Council.
The Commission has abolished the three rural councillor positions in favour of 'at large' elections; retained 12 councillors but added a new rural community board position; divided the rural community into three new wards; and transferred areas of Blueskin, Westmere and Marybank from the rural to the urban ward.
"It is a decision lacking any real logic and flies in the face of the community's express wishes as represented by Referendum '06. It is also factually wrong which simply staggers me. It is a report written by ex-local body politicians living in the past. There is no support, even from the council's critics, to add to the district's elected officials."
Mr Laws said that the Representation Commission had also rejected its own previous precedent of reducing elected members.
"We now have the Wanganui ratepayer shelling out for not just an already excessive number of local reps (19) but actually adding a twentieth! That is patently absurd."
Mr Laws said that he was pleased that 'at large' elections would be held because it gave ever voter the opportunity to vote for every councillor.
"But creating three rural wards within the rural community board is just madness. On the one hand, the Commission rejects wards as truly representative and then it creates three more!
"This will mean additional administration and expense for the ratepayer. That is the exact reverse of what the Wanganui community wants."
Other mistakes in the Representation Commission's report were highlighted by Mr Laws as examples of the Commission's "shoddy thinking".
"The Commission found that Referendum '06 didn't provide all the necessary information to electors, but then says "we are satisfied that the Council acted in accordance with the required statutory process" (p7).
"It also falsely states the position of the Remuneration Authority on councillor salary rises. The Authority chairman advised the council, in 2005, that a unanimous council decision could defer any salary increases for councillors.
"Then the Commission creates a councillor who doesn't exist (p2) – a 'Nicky Hecky'.
"They also don't understand that increasing elected reps will increase administrative expenses and salaries – an additional burden of some tens of thousands of dollars a year."
Mr Laws said that the Representation Commission was composed of three ex-local body politicians "and it shows. They do not understand modern local government or the community’s desire to reduce politician numbers and trim costs. Their report is an illogical farce".