Accusations of lies are being thrown around on the issue of
councillor groupings in the Dunedin local body elections.
A former council staff member says he saw members of
Dunedin's only ticket, Greater Dunedin, meet behind closed
doors before council and committee meetings. But Greater
Dunedin says that is not true because the group agreed not to
Mayoral candidate Pete George also says other councillors
told him the group appears to meet and caucus, a suggestion
Greater Dunedin member Mayor Dave Cull said during a recent
television debate ''must be a lie''.
Mr George is now blogging it is Mr Cull who ''seems to be
deliberately misleading the public'', by not admitting the
group meets or is, in fact, a party.
Mr Cull said the possibility of such accusations (caucusing
and block voting) was behind members specifically agreeing
never to meet.
Throughout the campaign, other mayoral aspirants have raised
concerns about Greater Dunedin potentially having too much
influence on the council.
But one particular accusation riled Greater Dunedin the most
in recent weeks.
While discussing the election as a guest on a talkback show,
former council communications manager Rodney Bryant claimed
he had seen the group meet in the mayor's office behind
closed doors before council and committee meetings, and more
''I don't know what they were doing in there; maybe
organising who was going to buy the next Lotto ticket,'' he
The claim was hotly denied on air by Greater Dunedin chairman
Cr Richard Thomson, who had been waiting to talk about
something else, and Mr Cull, who rang in.
Mr Bryant stands by what he said.
''The fact is based on my own observations. Whether it is by
coincidence [that they went into the office together] or by
design, I don't know,'' he told the Otago Daily Times.
He acknowledged Greater Dunedin councillors had different
ideas and there was no apparent compunction to vote together,
but he raised the issue because Greater Dunedin had said it
conducted its business without making up its minds about how
they are going to vote on an issue before events.
''To which my response is then, why do you need a Greater
Dunedin?''Cr Thomson said other than seeing the mayor in
''bunches'' that could include other councillors too, to
discuss normal council business, all of the Greater Dunedin
councillors had met in the mayor's office only once, and that
was in the past few months to work out its approach to the
Mr Bryant left the council about a year ago.
Cr Thomson was angry about the comments, because the group
had been scrupulous about not meeting and everybody was, with
the exception of ''some basic principles agreed to as a team
around respect, and doing the work and being financially
prudent'', there as individuals and made their own decisions.
Mr Cull said the only purpose of Greater Dunedin, an
incorporated society, was to seek and promote good candidates
to stand for the council.
''We have no policies. We have a diversity of views and
political leanings and the record will show that we vote in
In response to another concern of Mr George's, Mr Cull said
if re-elected mayor, he would consider appointing chairmen
for committees based on councillors' experience, skills and
integrity and not whether they had been elected on the
Greater Dunedin ticket.
Councillors could, by majority vote, overturn his choices.