Need for Brown Law

If ministers misbehave they can be sacked.

There is no ability to do that for a mayor and Watching Brief has a proposal for legislation to change that:

. . .The Minister shall introduce legislation as a matter of urgency providing for the recall and subsequent new election for any elected local government position.

The legislation will be drafted to achieve the following objective;

To allow voters recall a politician if they get the support of at least 10 per cent of the people who voted in the last election. The politician would be removed from office and a by-election would be held. The recalled politician could still run as a candidate. . .

Len Brown’s behaviour and refusal to resign has highlighted council and public impotence in the face of serious transgression by a mayor.

Watching Brief’s proposal should be taken seriously.

It could be called the Brown Law after the man who has shown such legislation is necessary.

Pending that – there is a petition calling on the mayor to resign.

5 Responses to Need for Brown Law

  1. In Colarorado, the number of valid signatures required to force a special recall election is 25% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled. The rules surrounding the enactment and procedure for a recall are in a useful summary here:

    There are links in the article which lead to the specific Section 1 of Article 21 of the Colorado Constitution. This would be a great starting point when we consider framing a similar regulation here – which I think is now a proven necessity.


  2. Armchair Critic says:

    Earlier on today you observed the following:

    First, a quote from a Dom Post editorial

    “There’s the rub. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Referendums are, as the 1986 Royal Commission on the Electoral System observed, “blunt and crude” instruments.

    They have their place. There are a handful of constitutional issues that should not be decided without reference to the public.

    But generally governments should be left to govern. Issues can seldom be reduced to simple “yes” or “no” questions and the country’s position on serious matters should not be determined by populism. . .”

    Then, in your own supportive words

    Few issues are black and white and therefore most are unsuited to the referendum option of yes or no.

    This has been an expensive exercise in self-promotion for the opposition.”

    So, I have to ask, what makes you think the ability to recall politicians will be treated much differently to the CIRs you apparently dislike so strongly? I reckon there will be no difference at all, and an ability to recall politicians would be even more of an impediment to governance that CIRs are already.

    My wry smile has been working overtime for the last couple of weeks. You are aware, no doubt, that Len Brown was given presidential type powers by legislation that was written and passed, in a hell of a hurry, by National. They were warned about the dangers of doing so, and replied blithely with a “trust us, we know what we are doing”. Obviously they didn’t know what they were doing.

    It’s interesting, too, that the quote you provide talks about “politicians”, as opposed to “mayors and councillors”. A fair enough call, in my opinion, after all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so if a power of recall was instituted it should be for all politicians, in both central and local government. A threshold of 10% of votes cast is much lower than the threshold Marc Williams quotes above for Colorado. Even a 25% threshold would be risky. For example, 25% of the turnout from the 2011 general election is significantly fewer voters than those that voted “No” in the recent referendum, and less than twice the number of voters required to initiate the referendum.

    It’s my assessment that while at face value the ability to recall politicians is a nice to have, in practice it would turn into a political football and be horribly misused. It’s only a nice to have at the moment because National stuffed up the legislation, and I suggest you reflect on that (and how it relates to the concept of responsibility) before you get too enthusiastic about the idea.


  3. homepaddock says:

    I agree politicians is too wide. This should be applied to mayors only.

    Whether a mayor should stay or go is a blunt question and therefore suited to a referendum.


  4. Armchair Critic says:

    I disagree. A power of recall should be applied to all politicians equally, or to none at all. My preference is for the latter, especially with a three year electoral cycle.


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