Daily Archives: April 8, 2017

Questions over Council’s Dunedin Hospital SOS campaign

Received from Diane Yeldon
Fri, 7 April 2017 at 4:06 p.m.

OPINION

What’s wrong with the DCC Dunedin Hospital SOS Campaign?

If you clear away all the smoke from the party-political bluster, bickering and name–calling arising over this campaign, has the Dunedin City Council really done anything out of order? Or were some councillors, in fact, a majority, just trying to do their best for the people of Dunedin?

Unfortunately, the road to hell can be paved with good intentions. A council communication cannot be a political advertisement.

The Electoral Act more or less defines a political advertisement as anything which persuades or encourages voters to vote in a particular way. But our democratic rights to participate in government decision-making are not limited to voting once every three years. Citizens also have the right to petition Government, make submissions to select committees and other public authorities and deliberative bodies, and lobby MPs and Government Ministers.

If local councillors had been presented with a motion which proposed the following : that the Council encourages and persuades voters to choose candidate A, they would have rightly been horrified and would have rejected it.

In comparison, a single, short and final paragraph in a council motion which proposes that the Council should ask for public support for ONLY its own preferred position on a central government decision, and that people make such views known to central government, looks harmless and is quite likely to pass unnoticed – and, in fact, did. But it is just as political. It encourages people to use their democratic rights in a particular way.

The council staff should have alerted councillors that this was the case and that such political activism was beyond the proper scope of any local body. The difference in wording may be subtle but the democratic principles involved are significant and far-reaching.

Monday, 3 April 2017

[ends]

Dunedin City Council’s Dunedin Hospital SOS petition states:
“I demand that central government redevelops Dunedin Hospital in the centre of the city. The government must also make a clear commitment to retain a top flight teaching hospital for Dunedin and the wider Otago/Southland region.
Save Our Site. Save Our Services.”

Petition at the DCC-managed SOS website [framed screenshot]

At the bottom of the webpage, DCC says:
“Dunedin Hospital SOS
The Dunedin City Council (“DCC”, “we”, “us”, or “our”) operates, hosts, or manages a number of websites, including DunedinHospitalSOS.nz. This site was created and funded following a Council resolution (21 February 2017) to communicate to Government its complete opposition to a rebuild of Dunedin Hospital outside the central city. It is not a permanent website.”

How the petition got off the ground by Council vote (21 February 2017) on the Notice of Motion:

[screenshots – click to enlarge]

DCC Council 21.2.17 Agenda – 15 Notice of Motion Dunedin Hospital Rebuild

DCC Council 21.2.17 Minutes – 15 Notice of Motion Dunedin Hospital Rebuild

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The DCC Dunedin Hospital SOS flyer and Facebook campaign cost Ratepayers $7,102 (excl GST). Ratepayers also find themselves footing the bill for a DCC-led SOS media campaign:

ODT Online 8.4.17 [screenshot]

Related Posts and Comments:
● 6.4.17 ODT editor comments strongly #tick —Dunedin Hospital rebuild
● 27.3.17 Site Notice #DunedinHospital
● 26.2.17 Dunedin Hospital Redevelopment
● 6.2.17 Let the Ombudsman recommend for democracy at SDHB
● 24.1.17 SDHB/Govt : Physio Pool GRIEF
● 9.1.17 Audit NZ admonishes commissioner Grant and SDHB #Health
● 18.12.16 DCC set to take away CBD car parks without Economic Impact research
20.11.16 Delta at Dunedin Hospital #worseluck
7.11.16 SDHB #FAILS with Healthcare Communication and Governance

█ For more, enter the terms *hospital*, *sdhb* and *swann* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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