At the beginning of each three-year council term, elected members are asked to disclose known interests on behalf of themselves and spouses or partners. These are listed in the Elected Members Interests Register.
It is up to the elected member to judge whether they have any interests to declare. Some elected members may have none.
As well as this, elected members may decide that they have an interest in a particular issue or item to be discussed at a meeting. There is a standing item on every meeting agenda for elected members to declare conflicts of interest.
Members who have declared an interest in any matters that are due to be considered at a Council, Committee or Community Board meeting should declare that they have an interest in the matter, leave the table and not take part in any discussion, debate or vote on that matter.
Every elected member (Mayor, Councillor or Community Board member) has a number of professional and personal links to their community. They may own a business or be a member on a board or organisation. They may have a pecuniary (financial) interest or a non-pecuniary (non-financial) interest. These interests are a part of living in the community which they need to make decisions about in their role with Council.
Elected members are governed by the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968 and are guided by the Auditor-General in how this Act is administered. In relation to pecuniary interests, the two underlying purposes of the Act are to:
Non-pecuniary interests relate to whether an elected member could be in danger of having a real or perceived bias for an issue under consideration.
Elected members will also have interests that are considered no greater than the public at large. For example, most elected members will own a property and therefore be a ratepayer in Tasman District.
Conflicts of interest at times cannot be avoided, and can arise without anyone being at fault. They need not cause problems when they are promptly disclosed and well managed.