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WPG Petition For Inquiry

Legal Challenge By WPG to Ak Local Body Election Filed in Ak Dist. Court

"A Petition For Inquiry by the Water Pressure Group (Auckland) into the Auckland Local Body Election has been filed in the Auckland District Court. We are now waiting for a hearing date. The wording of the Petition For Inquiry follows below," said Penny Bright Water ,Water Pressure Group Media Spokesperson.

________________________________________________________

PETITION FOR INQUIRY

In the matter of an election into the office of Councilors for the Auckland City Council held on Saturday, the 13th day of October 2001.

To the District Court Judge exercising jurisdiction at the District Court at Auckland, being the Courthouse at or nearest to the principal polling place.

THE petition of the undersigned electors of the Auckland area namely: (Names and addresses of 10 undersigned electors of the Auckland area.)

1. Your petitioners state that the said election was held on the 13th day of October 2001 when Graeme Mulholland, David Hay, Paul Forlong and Noeline Raffills were candidates, and the Returning Officer has returned Graeme Mulholland, David Hay and Noeline Raffills as being duly elected.

2. And your petitioners say that:

(a) In a Loyalty Statement by Intending Candidates, which the said candidates pledged to support, it was stated that Auckland Citizen and Ratepayers Now ("ACRN") believed that "Service provision should be contracted out as much as possible", including water and stormwater, and "In the long term (5+years) we look forward to a public-private operating partnership structure that works so well in other countries/jurisdictions (such as Victoria, Australia, and many communities in the USA)."

(b) It is understood that for prospective candidates to have received endorsement from ACRN they must have signed the pledge outlined above.

(c) This position accords with a statement to the media in Saturday 11 April 1998, by policy spokesperson Angus Ogilvie which stated that Auckland Now's policy follows the example of Papakura District Council, which contracted a private company, United Water to manage its water and wastewater services.

(d) However in a statement by Mr Angus Ogilvie Vice-President of Auckland Now on 17 September 2001 made in response to a request from the Water Pressure Group for the position of ACRN on water services, the response also being circulated to Auckland City Council candidates, Mr Ogilvie said:

"My point, Penny is that Auckland Now does not have a privatisation agenda nor does C & R. I trust that allays any concerns your group may have on this score. As stated, we have not released our water policy and will do in due course."

(e) In addition an election handbill authorised by Mr Maurice Chatfield ACRN Secretary, and signed by ACRN candidates Graeme Mulholland, David Hay, Noeline Raffills and Paul Forlong and circularized in the Avondale/Mt Roskill area by these candidates stated that they "have never, and will never support privatisation of water and sewerage assets."

(f) It is submitted then that Mr Ogilvie's emailed statement to Ms Penny Bright, an elector, was a misrepresentation and was intended to be a fraudulent means of inducing Ms Bright and other members of the Water Pressure Group to vote for ACRN.

(g) It is submitted that the election handbill is a falsehood and so is a fraudulent device perpetrated for the purpose of inducing electors to vote for the named candidates by misrepresenting these named candidates as opposed to the privatization of the Auckland water supply when they had in fact contemporaneously pledged to support the future privatization of Auckland's water supply.

(h) It is submitted that such frauds constitute acts of Undue Influence proscribed by s127 Local Electoral Act 2001 which states:

"Every person commits the offence of undue influence....

who by any fraudulent device or means...

induces.. any elector...to vote."

(i) When the petitioners brought this fraud to the attention of the Returning Officer by Ms Penny Bright ringing the Electoral Officer on 24 September 2001, she was told that the Electoral Officer had no powers to investigate a complaint.

(j) This conversation was referred to in the subsequent correspondence from the Returning Officer.

(k) It is submitted that the Returning Officer is in breach of s 131 which states:

Every electoral officer, deputy electoral officer, or other electoral official commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $2000, who is guilty of any intentional or reckless act of commission or omission contrary to the provisions of the Act or regulations made under this Act in respect of any election or poll, and for which no other penalty is imposed by this Act or regulations made under this Act.

(l) The duty to which this breach attaches is s15 of the Act which states that:

An electoral officer is responsible, in accordance with the provisions of this Act and regulations made under this Act, for investigating possible offences and reporting alleged offences to the police.

In addition s138 of the Act states that:

If the electoral officer receives a written complaint that an offence under this Part has been committed; or believes for any other reason that an offence under this part may have been committed, the electoral officer must report that matter to the police together with the results of any enquiries made by the electoral officer that he or she considers appropriate.

Wherefore your petitioners pray that it may be determined that the Returning Officer and Mr Ogilvie are in breach of this Act and that the said Graeme Mulholland, David Hay and Noeline Raffills were not duly elected, and that the election was void.

Dated at Auckland this 9th day of November 2001.

(Signed by the 10 petitioners.)

________________________________________________________

"It has cost the Water Pressure Group (Auckland) money to lodge this legal challenge, and we really need financial assistance. Any individuals or community organisations wishing to assist please make out cheques to:

The Water Pressure Group

and please send to:

PO Box 19764 Avondale Auckland

Thanks!"


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