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Barnett Must Stand Aside From ARC Rates Decisions

Chamber Of Commerce Head. Michael Barnett, Must Stand Aside From ARC Rates Decisions.

Statement from David Thornton

Yesterday I drew attention to the serious conflict of interest attached to ARC councillor Michael Barnett who, as Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, made a strong submissions to the ARC, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, calling for no re-introduction of business differentials in the council's rating policy - and then being in a position to vote on the issue as an ARC councillor..

Following my email on this issue to ARC members yesterday, Michael Barnett was questioned by councillors this morning but refused to acknowledge any conflict of interest and indicated that he would take part in the debate, and vote on, the controversial ARC rate.

Councillor Barnett, with the full support of Councillor Craig Little, attempted to stifle debate at today's council meeting on the vital issue of re-introducing a business differential into the ARC rates policy. This attempt took the form of a 'closure' motion on a debate on a motion proposed by ARC Chair Gwen Bull that 'there be no business differential' in the ARC's rating policy.

Fortunately only five councillors supported this move and the debate will now take place starting at 9.00am tomorrow.

In few of the fact that the business sector [which Mr Barnett represents in his paid employment] stands to pay millions of dollars extra in rates if a differential is applied, it appears that Mr Barnett has an indirect pecuniary interest is preventing those extra rates being levied.

That indirect interest arises from the fact the Mr Barnett is being paid by the Chamber of Commerce to oppose business differentials.

Therefore he must certainly not be permitted to vote on this issue in a process which requires all councillors to consider submissions with an 'open mind'. How can anyone have an 'open mind' about a submission they have been paid to make?

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