We hear much these days of conflict of interest. I have written about it. The media often have a feature on it. But what is the ultimate conflict of interest.
Following on from my blog post yesterday questioning who am I let us examine the role of an elected member. Not so much therefore, who am I but, what is my role in Council.
The fact is the conflict of responsibilities of your elected members is the ultimate conflict of interest.
The Local Government Act defines two clear, but conflicting roles.
The first of these is to be a member of the governing body of Council. The second is to represent the interests of residents and rate payers.
A conflict of roles if ever there was one.
Being a member of the governing body is alike to being a member of a company board of directors.
Being a member of a board of directors requires me to attend regular “director’s” meetings and participate in the deliberations of the council. As part of this role, I have the responsibility to keep the council’s objectives and policies under review. To ensure that they are appropriate and effective.
Importantly, I am also responsible to manage the council’s income and expenditure. This means keeping the efficiency and effectiveness of its service delivery under review.
This responsibility is only in concert with my fellow councillors. I cannot act alone. Neither can a small subgroup act alone.
Contrary to this responsibility however is my second defined role.
As a person elected to the council I must represent the interests of residents and ratepayers. I am required to provide community leadership and guidance. I must facilitate communication between the community and the council.
This means I must represent you and advocate for you to the Council.
This is a role many in the community do not understand. A role they don’t take advantage of.
As conflicting as these roles may sound they are also mutually complementary.
In order to represent you and advocate for you I must do so for all. For that to happen I must be conscious of the greater good. The good of our whole community.
So, even if what you seek advocacy for conflicts with your neighbours, I must seek to give you the best possible chance to be heard.
And that I will continue to strive to do.