Commission 'trampling over democracy' -Lobby group

Tauranga commissioners Shadrach Rolleston, Bill Wasley, Anne Tolley and Stephen Selwood. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Lobby group Tax Payers’ Union is accusing Tauranga’s commissioners of “trampling over local democracy”, but the commission’s chair says they have no intention of doing that.

The comments come after commission chair Anne Tolley’s interview with Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB on Thursday.

Tolley told the radio host she would prefer a “hybrid” local governance model because democracy sometimes “fails”.

There could be skill “gaps” in elected councils and the appointment of people to work with councillors in the future could help address this, said Tolley.

Tauranga is gearing up for an election with nine councillors and a mayor to be voted in on July 20.

The council will replace the commission, made up of Tolley, Bill Wasley, Shadrach Rolleston and Stephen Selwood, who have been running the city since February 2021.

Former local government minister Nanaia Mahuta deposed the previous council in December 2020 because of “significance governance” issues.

Hosking asked Tolley if she felt angst from the community because of recent calls from a former mayor and ACT MP to have the commission act in a “caretaker role”.

ACT MP Cameron Luxton joined an ex-mayor in calling for the commission to act in a caretaker role. Photo: Supplied

“Well, there’s angst of different sorts,” Tolley replied.

“There’s angst in the community that the elections are coming up, the city’s on the move and we’re going to go backwards because all of the old guard are preparing themselves to be reelected, so there’s various angst but the city’s in good heart.

“There’s a lot of reconstruction happening and things are moving and, I think you know, people are feeling pretty good.”

Tax Payers’ Union spokesperson Alex Murphy said: “It’s no surprise that an unelected official with the ability to make massively influential decisions doesn’t want there to be another election, but to suggest that Tauranga ratepayers would be better off without elected councillors is an absolute disgrace.

“Ratepayers have had to put up with over three years of unelected bureaucrats managing their money without any way of voting them out.

“This isn’t about whether the commissioners are doing a better job than their dysfunctional elected predecessors, this is about ensuring that democracy is upheld, and the people of Tauranga get their rightful say.

“If Anne Tolley and the other commissioners believe they are running the city well, they should stand for election and put their case to the voters rather than trampling over local democracy.”

Commission chair Anne Tolley said the Tax Payers’ Union misconstrued her comments. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

In response, Tolley said: “The Taxpayers’ Union has misconstrued my comments.

“The commissioners’ roles will come to an end in July when Tauranga will elect a mayor and nine councillors and we have no intention of ‘trampling over local democracy’.

“My comments with regard to the potential for the ‘old guard’ to try and reverse the city’s progress related to repeated expressions of concern we have received from the community about just that possibility.

“The responsibility for electing an effective and progressive governance team lies with voters and based on the feedback we have received, and continue to receive, we have every faith that the community will elect representatives they believe will lead the city well.”

Nominations for candidates open on April 26.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.


The gravy train is slowing down...

Posted on 05-04-2024 12:26 | By morepork

“If Anne Tolley and the other commissioners believe they are running the city well, they should stand for election and put their case to the voters rather than trampling over local democracy.” I wonder why they won't do that? Let's just see them gone and be glad of it.


Posted on 05-04-2024 12:28 | By Tunks

I agree 100% with Commisioner Tolley's remarks regarding the old guard preparing for re-election. These bozos did nothing for Tauranga except to degrade it to a point where radical measures were rquired to get back on track. There were very good reasons why commissioners were appointed and very good reasons why some of those self serving clowns should not be re-elected again.


Posted on 05-04-2024 12:52 | By Noel Silver

Noel -
In a true democratic way the Commissioners should all stand for Council and Mayor and then the Ratepayers will decide who they wish to represent them.

Commissioners OUT

Posted on 05-04-2024 13:07 | By Feruno

These commissioners were politically forced upon Tauranga, and should have been removed when we voted out Labour. They did the same as Labour did to New Zealand debt with little to show

Is she asking to stay?

Posted on 05-04-2024 13:08 | By A. Lincoln

BOP Times 29 February 2024
Tolley told the Bay of Plenty Times the commission was considering “making the same recommendation” about a Crown observer to the [new] local government minister.
“It is extremely unusual for there to be a drop-dead stop to government intervention in local government,” Tolley said.


Posted on 05-04-2024 14:28 | By Raewyn

I think the commissioners have painted on ears they certainly are not listening to the People of Tauranga and go ahead with Tunnel vision of their own ideas!


Posted on 05-04-2024 15:34 | By Let's get real

I missed the interview and assume that there were probably a number of patsy questions.
I have heard Hoskin praising the decision to appoint commissioners in the past and it can be difficult for people in the public eye to backtrack on earlier beliefs. I wouldn't be surprised to find that it was the commissioners that made the advances to the radio station to apply spin to a very dark period in the history of Tauranga
I wonder if what I have read here is Tolly attempting to deflect some of attention away from the ineptitude of permanent council staff.
Until this shambolic period is dissected and responsibility for poor planning and even poorer implementation is identified, how can we possibly have any respect for council offices or staff.
If nobody challenges the situation, there can be no debate. I'm happy to be a naysayer here.


Posted on 05-04-2024 15:53 | By Let's get real

How many of the initiatives were put out for ratepayers consultation and how many were overturned after consultation...?
Who thought that a level 6 eco-building was exactly what we needed for council seat warmers to carry out their duties efficiently or effectively. The old building wasn't nine floors high and other than some mould, appeared to be functional in terms of interdepartmental communication and cooperation.
Don't forget that 69 people in our city of over 150,000 wanted and were granted funding and support to build a museum at Gate Pa. Was it only the Iwi that had voting rights
Hoskin obviously doesn't regard local media as a true reflection of public opinion.


Posted on 05-04-2024 16:07 | By Informed

Unfortunately when the Karen's say that the Commissioners aren't listening. What they mean is that the Commissioners are listening to the whole community rather than the grumpy old guard.
The elections will come around and the old guard will come back in and investment will stop. So transport will get worse, no investment in community. stuck in time.

The Master

Posted on 05-04-2024 17:45 | By Ian Stevenson

The Fab-4 have no legs to stand on in this debate.... example...

Spent mega money saying "We are listen", then did not listen at all, likely because they knew best before ever listening.

Did no bother with public consultation in 2023 on the annual plan as they had already decided it all so why bother listening to anyone about what's already decided.

Cut speaking time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes. yeah "we are listening"????

Created a botched LTP 2024-2034 what was a complete mess, limited consult early and "RAM-RAIDED" it through so as to lock in all the nasties, debt and massive rate hikes for the next decade.

Then run away (in a couple a months) and hide!

The Master

Posted on 05-04-2024 17:49 | By Ian Stevenson

Tolly is denying “trampling over local democracy”.

Any sane person would have to agree that Tauranga and its community are 100% trashed by the Fab-4, what other way could you possibly call it.

Tenby Powell

Posted on 05-04-2024 18:11 | By jed

They should have made Tenby Powell the head commissioner... at least he was voted in. It was the other councillors that were causing problems, not Tenby.

Go back to school tolls

Posted on 05-04-2024 20:10 | By nerak

Read the following twice: 'A democratic system of government is a form of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation' and 'The Democratic Charter defines the essential elements of representative democracy in very specific terms, including: respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms'. Now do you comprehend? You're still spouting crap:“Well, there’s angst of different sorts,”. Again, look the word up: a feeling of deep anxiety or dread. Your challenge is to find a different meaning. Trust you will enjoy your overstuffed pockets of our money which you have taken from us whilst riding roughshod over us. Enough, just go.


Posted on 06-04-2024 12:51 | By Kancho

I agree with jed . Tenby called it if we were a business we would be bankrupt but was frustrated by some councillors. He was forthright and that didn't go down to well with someone who moved here and was successful. Still he has gone to war torn Ukraine and doing wonderful work . Had he not had the rug pulled out from him he would have been far better for us than the political interference we have endured. He was in the mould of the Auckland mayor who says it as it is and questions the councils employees and decisions as a mayor should

@ Kancho and jed

Posted on 07-04-2024 18:40 | By Yadick

Totally agree with you. You both make excellent comments. Tenby was the best thing to happen to TCC but the wannabes couldn't and refused to accommodate change and put their thumbs in their mouths. Look what they've caused now . . . and they expect us to vote them back in - NOT BLOODY LIKELY.

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