Local Body Elections - why they are important
The local body elections are local people electing local people, to make decisions on local issues. Voting is important in order to have a say on issues and opportunities in your area, such as housing, education, environment, and transport to name a few. Future changes could have an impact on the regions in which you or your organisations operate.
Key dates and facts:
- Held on 8 October 2016. Voting documents must be received by the council before voting closes at 12pm. Between 13 and 19 October official results will be released. The Government Directory website will be updated as soon as the results are announced.
- Elections are held every three years. Enrolled voters receive posting papers one month prior to voting.
- Public are entitled to vote where they live, as well as where they own a property – if that is different from where they live.
Children can get involved, with registered schools providing an authentic experience of voting. Find out more.
Students learn about and vote for real candidates, following the same processes as a real election but with a teacher acting as the electoral officer. Votes are counted by the teacher and compared to the results of the real election.
Voting skills are vital for children to learn to be an active citizen and help increase their understanding of the governance we live by, and also themselves.
Transparency in the Public Sector
Two notable cases have highlighted the transparency of public sector organisations recently, something you need to be aware of if you communicate with them.
In June, internal emails between managers and staff of Capital & Coast District Health Board relating to a man with autism who was locked in seclusion were made public. More recently in Hastings and Havelock North, the impact of water contamination is likely to be felt for a long time, and those likely interacted parties will use the OIA to obtain copies of internal communications.
Every organisation should be familiar with the OIA and LGOIMA, two Acts specific to public sector transparency. Information below highlights how any communications sent to a public sector organisation can be made public, it also enables you to potentially access information that is important to you or other publics.
Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA)
What is the LGOIMA?
The LGOIMA allows people to request official information held by local government agencies. This Act contains rules for how such requests should be handled, and provides a right to complain to the Ombudsman in certain situations. Click here to see the Ombudsman’s guide.
Official Information Act 1992 (OIA)
What is the OIA?
The OIA is designed to make government activities more open and transparent to the public. Anybody can request information held by Ministers and central government agencies such as the Police, universities, boards of trustees of state schools and district health boards.
Information that can be requested includes: documents (draft and final); reports; letters and emails; meeting minutes and agendas; video tapes or recordings.
The requested information must be supplied within 20 working days. If an organisation declines, it must provide a reason and advise the Ombudsman, who investigates whether this is justified under the Act.
Click here to see an example.
How are the OIA and LGOIMA relevant to you or organisations you work with?
- Information on a wide range of subjects and across any platform, not necessarily details within a particular document, can be requested.
- Any communication an organisation has with government organisations and local bodies could be requested and accessed by the public and media.
- The organisation that makes the request could be liable to pay for any costs occurred to obtain and supply the information, although this is seldom enforced.
- Expenses, sponsorship and funding paid between an organisation and local bodies, government organisations, agencies or officials can be requested.