March 31, 2016

Exclusive: Auckland Council funding 250 organisations

Today we can reveal that Auckland ratepayers are being forced to fund some 250 professional associations and lobby groups thanks to the Council’s efforts to join and unduly influence the very bodies which seek to lobby it.

It’s bad enough Auckland Council is funding the Chamber of Commerce and the Property Council. Now we discover the Council is funding the Bibliographical Society of Australia and NZ; the Public Relations Institute of NZ and even the UK Institute for Archaeology.

We've asked, but the Council has refused to tell us, how much it has spent on the Property Council to date. It's not good enough. Ratepayers deserve transparency.

Ratepayers will be aghast to learn how many overseas based organisations the Council has been funding with locals’ rates. Why on earth is the Council funding the likes of the Institute of British Engineers, the International Society of Automation, or the Oral History Association of Australia?

No wonder Auckland planning is such a shambles. The tentacles of Council reach into every possible planning group effectively creating a line up of sock puppets.

Look at the funding of the NZ Archaeological Association for example. This was the group which first blew the whistle on the fact that many of the Council’s Mana Whenua ’sites of value’ in the Unitary Plan don’t exist. The group has subsequently pulled back. How can groups such as this provide the necessary checks and balances on the Council when the Council itself buys its way into them?

Today the Council votes on whether to keep funding the New Zealand Property Council, a lobby group whose very purpose is to hold the Council accountable on regularity and planning matters. How can they possibly perform their necessary function in an unbiased manner when one of their members is the very group they are supposed to be lobbying?

We are proud to be one hundred percent funded by our members and supporters. We maintain ourselves as a strong independent voice by not accepting a cent of Council money. Now we’re calling on the Property Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Business NZ to hold themselves to the same standard.