The Ombudsman has invited the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union to bring enforcement proceedings to the High Court over Christchurch City Council’s failure to release the spending figure for the seven metre ‘touch wall’ in its new library. He has also asked the Attorney General to consider doing the same.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “Over a month after the Ombudsman recommended releasing the spending figure, we’ve seen nothing from the Council. This is brazen, especially under a mayor who has been promising more transparency over the use of ratepayer money.”
“The Ombudsman has made an excellent and correct decision, first in recommending the release of the information, and now in approaching the Attorney General. We’ve never seen such a damning judgement against a public body.”
“We are currently seeking legal advice – bringing action against the Council ourselves is something we are considering, regardless of whether the Attorney General does the same.”
“Christchurch ratepayers have a significant interest in this kind of spending, especially as both the library and town hall projects face budget blowouts, and rates are being hiked by an average of six percent annually.”
“But this issue is bigger than Christchurch. For too long public agencies have flouted freedom of information law. If we need to take Christchurch City Council and Lianne Dalziel to Court to set a precedent that this sort of disregard for transparency has consequences, then it’s worth the effort.”