Some coun­cil­lors prove eli­gi­bil­ity, oth­ers stay silent

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JACK­SON THOMAS

Auck­land Coun­cil is un­con­cerned about the grow­ing scru­tiny over coun­cil­lors’ eli­gi­bil­ity to hold of­fice.

Last week, Whangarei Dis­trict coun­cil­lor Jayne Go­lightly re­vealed she was not a New Zealand cit­i­zen, forc­ing her to re­sign and putting the cit­i­zen­ship of other coun­cils’ staff un­der the mi­cro­scope.

Stuff con­tacted all 20 coun­cil­lors in Auck­land and asked them about their own eli­gi­bil­ity - and to pro­vide proof of their cit­i­zen­ship. Nine re­sponded.

Coun­cil­lors Daniel New­man, Des­ley Simp­son, Bill Cash­more, Sharon Ste­wart, Chris Darby, Cathy Casey, Linda Cooper, Dick Quax and Penny Hulse pro­vided copies of ei­ther their pass­ports, birth cer­tifi­cates or nom­i­na­tion forms.

Gov­ern­ment re­quire­ments stated that in or­der to be a coun­cil­lor, one must be both a New Zealand cit­i­zen and en­rolled as a Par­lia­men­tary elec­tor - which also means be­ing 18 or older.

How­ever, de­spite more than half of its coun­cil­lors choos­ing not to re­spond to the in­quiry, Auck­land Coun­cil were not ready to hit the panic but­ton. Gen­eral man­ager democ­racy ser­vices Mar­guerite Del­bet said coun­cil would not look in­ter­nally at cit­i­zen­ship, elect­ing to trust the in­for­ma­tion they were pro­vided with.

‘‘When a can­di­date lodges his/ her nom­i­na­tion for an election, it is done on an of­fi­cial, pre­scribed nom­i­na­tion paper,’’ Del­bet said.

‘‘The can­di­date is re­quired to con­sent to be nom­i­nated and to cer­tify that they are qual­i­fied to be a can­di­date. Cer­ti­fy­ing they are qual­i­fied is done by tick­ing two check boxes, and then sign­ing the nom­i­na­tion paper.’’

The coun­cil’s elec­toral of­fi­cer then checked each paper to en­sure both cri­te­ria (NZ cit­i­zen and Par­lia­men­tary elec­tor) were ticked and ac­cepted the in­for­ma­tion con­tained on the paper as cor­rect, she said.

In the case of Whana­garei Coun­cil­lor Go­lightly, she had con- sented or her nom­i­na­tion paper that she was both a Par­lia­men­tary elec­tor and a cit­i­zen.

‘‘I’m not aware of any other in­stances such as this oc­cur­ring in my more than 30 years con­duct­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions,’’ Election Ser­vices New Zealand man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Dale Of­soske said.

SI­MON MAUDE/STUFF

Ward coun­cil­lor for Waitakere Penny Hulse said she was born in South Africa but was now a New Zealand cit­i­zen.

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