1 Nov 2012

Auckland Council reverses decision on Maori budget role

8:36 pm on 1 November 2012

A heated exchange took place as Auckland councillors reversed a decision that would have excluded Maori from a role in setting the city's annual budget.

Last week, in a narrow 11 to 10 vote, councillors decided not to send the budget to Strategy and Finance Committee, but keep discussions to full council meetings.

That would have excluded two members of the non-elected Independent Maori Statutory Board, who sit on the committee, from talks on the budget.

Board members have voting rights on most council committees but not on the full council.

On Thursday, the council voted 14 to 6 in favour of the committee managing the budget process, as it has in the past.

Councillor Cathy Casey accused the centre-right Communities & Residents group led by Christine Fletcher of racism in wanting the budget to be diverted from the committee.

Councillor Dick Quax objected to the accusation. "To suggest for one moment that Councillor Fletcher was motivated by some kind of racism was abhorrent," he said, to heated denials from Ms Casey, who then withdrew the word.

Mayor Len Brown, told the meeting the original decision was probably illegal and was a breach of faith with the Independent Maori Statutory Board.

Councillors George Wood and Calum Penrose argued it was simply that the two board members on the committee were not elected, but appointed.