New Zealanders quite rightly look down on countries where repressive or manipulative regimes prevent elections from being free and fair, from being truly democratic--i.e., elections in which anyone can stand and anyone can vote and there is no interference with the ballot-paper before the election or during it.
But under the heading of elections for local government, New Zealand's elections have not been free and fair since at least 2002, because a corrupt trio of key officials have been interfering behind the scenes with the ballot-papers by severely restricting who can be on them.
Democracy is representative government. If it is prevented from being representative it is not democracy. That corrupt trio of officials, by their wilful failure to comply with excellent statute, have ensured that New Zealand's local-government elections cannot possibly be representative.
If people are to do a full-time job they must be alive, they must be housed and clothed and have enough money to be able to transport themselves about. Those elected to local government in New Zealand are elected to a full-time job for three years. But if the remuneration set for them is not enough, even for those basic requirements, then the only people who free to do stand for election are ones who have independent means.
But because the corrupt trio called the Remuneration Authority has wilfully ignored statute, because it has wilfully ignored the clear, simple mandatory criteria for setting remuneration that Parliament has laid down in Clause 7 of Schedule 7 of the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA2002), there are many local-government elected positions that are paid so little that only those of independent means can stand. That means the ballot-paper is being restricted to a tiny, unrepresentative sample of people. It is not available to all. That is not democracy. Therefore local-government elections in New Zealand are not free and fair.
It is instructive that the Remuneration Authority never cites Clause 7 of Schedule 7 when issuing its determinations. It cannot, because it does not adhere to it. Instead it adheres to what has become known as the Pool Formula, a weird, complicated formula invented by a former chair of the Authority, a formula that would make Einstein's head spin, and has nothing to do with sense, or the real world, or democracy, or the rule of good law.
And Clause 7 of Schedule 7 of the Local Government Act 2002 is very good law:
7 Mandatory criteria for Remuneration Authority
(1) In determining remuneration under clause 6, the Remuneration Authority must have regard to the need to—
(a) minimise the potential for certain types of remuneration to distort the behaviour of the persons listed in clause 6(1) in relation to their positions as listed in clause 6(1); and
(b) achieve and maintain fair relativity with the levels of remuneration received elsewhere; and
(c) be fair both—
(i) to the persons whose remuneration is being determined; and
(ii) o ratepayers; and
(d) ttract and retain competent persons.
(2) The criteria in subclause (1) do not prevent the Remuneration Authority from determining allowances additional to salary for attending meetings.
But because of the infamous Pool Formula and the corruption of the Remuneration Authority in the setting of local-government remuneration many people elected to local government are paid less than $10,000--even as little as $206 a year. That is glaringly in breach of Clause 7. Councillors on the old Auckland Regional Council were the lowest-paid regional councillors in the country, paid only $22,000 for a seniour management position--about half what their counterparts in Wellington were on.
Section 238 of the LGA2002 says explicitly that failure to comply with the Act is an offence, and directs us to section 242 under which offenders are to be haled into the District Court and fined up to $5000. But when that was attempted against the Remuneration Authority the judge who was on duty that week in a backroom of the Auckland District Court blocked the case from coming to court. How? By lying. She ruled that failure to comply with the mandatory criteria in Clause 7 of Schedule 7 of the LGA2002 'is not an offence known to law.' Section 238 clearly says it is. How did she get away with that? The first level of her lie was to pretend that a case in an English court in Battersea in the 1940s gave her the authority, which was of course nonsense because it was the wrong jurisdiction, the wrong country and the wrong century, so it had no bearing on New Zealand now. But her lie was a double lie, because the English case did not say what she quoted it as saying. She made it up.
The corruption got worse, because when the documentary evidence of her arrant lies was put before the Judicial Conduct Commission he found in her favour!!!
New Zealand's unfair, unfree local-body elections continue...