Otago Regional Council: Applications for exemptions and declaration

During February 2020, Otago Regional Council applied for exemptions and/or declarations under the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968 to enable certain councillors to take part in imminent decisions about freshwater management.

We needed enough information to assess whether each councillor had a reasonable expectation of gain or loss of money as a result of each discussion or decision that the Council had coming up. The Council wasn’t in a position to provide that information for all of the discussions and decisions so we agreed to focus on two Council meetings, on 11 and 25 March. At those meetings, councillors need to make decisions about the “Water Permit Plan Change” and the “Omnibus Plan Change”. We sought information from the Council about those decisions, and from councillors about their financial interests in those decisions.

The information we needed for the councillors who had financial interests was provided to us at the end of February.

We have also published some background information about the decisions to be made by the Council and our role in considering the applications.

Our decisions on the applications

Four councillors applied to us for exemptions or declarations: Councillor Hope, Councillor Noone, Councillor Kelliher, and Councillor Wilson. Based on the information provided to us and in summary, we consider that:

The Council will still be quorate even though two councillors will be unable to participate in the Water Permit Plan Change decision. We do not consider that the exclusions will distort how the Council deals with the decision.