A council gagging order isn’t worth the paper it’s written on – but won’t be removed.
Before last year’s local body elections, Mountain Scene raised the issue of a “potentially dangerous” gagging clause in Queenstown council’s code of conduct, forbidding elected members, including the mayor, from criticising council policies or decisions.
Academic Catherine Strong, of Massey University, says it’s “disturbing and potentially dangerous” because it “flies in the face of open government”.
Prior to being elected Jim Boult said he’d want the clause removed as soon as possible – but the council’s kept it.
Boult says elected members considered the code at the start of their term late last year and the consensus was that it didn’t constrain their ability to comment.
“This doesn’t change the position from what I said before I was elected – I certainly believe in people being able to speak their mind.
“Elected members do this all the time and the clause doesn’t prevent them from doing so.”