DCC earmarks funds for new policy role

Aaron Hawkins
Aaron Hawkins
A new position in the Dunedin mayor’s office will give "political advice around advocacy".

The exact job description would not be firmed up until the new financial year, Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said.

The Dunedin City Council draft budget approved last month would add 1.5 full-time equivalent positions for "mayoral strategic advice".

Mr Hawkins said the staff for the mayor’s office would be a full-time policy adviser and a part-time communications adviser.

The policy adviser position would report to the mayor, but the work would support the governance team as a whole.

There was a policy team already at the council but the proposed new staff member would "respond directly to the political arm of council" as opposed to council staff.

"It’s less about peer review and second-guessing any advice you might get from existing staff, it’s more about having people who can look across our organisation and across our strategic framework and consider all those things in the round," Mr Hawkins said.

"It’s just recognising that there are occasionally different imperatives on employees of the organisation and politicians — and particularly giving political advice around advocacy, which I think is a strong role that we play, having someone who responds to the political arm being able to give you advice on that, I think is helpful."

The 2019 Mayors’ Guide, prepared by Local Government New Zealand, states that while the Auckland mayor’s office was unique as it received a guaranteed proportion of the city’s budget to employ mayoral advisers and staff "for a larger council a mayor should expect to have access to their own executive assistant, a communications adviser and a policy adviser".

A council spokeswoman said it would not release the specific budget for the proposed positions for the mayor’s office as it could identify remuneration for individual staff.

The draft budget approved in January includes plans to add 27 new full time-equivalent staff across the entire organisation, and salary increases, adding $4.8million to the budget.

A push by Cr Lee Vandervis — supported by Cr Jules Radich — to cap the council’s increased staff costs was voted down at the time the draft budget was approved.

Mr Hawkins said he could not predict the outcome of the upcoming budget meeting in May or June.

"But I would hope that elected members would see the benefit of having staff that reported more closely to us as a governing body — and appreciate the scale of the work that we have ahead of us — and that we need all the help that we can get."


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Hey Aaron, I think you'll find I give good 'mayoral strategic advice' down here free of charge but if you're willing to hand me some money for it, I accept. I'm also available to advise the SDHB, ORC and Otago University :)

Even more power given to the mayor. And, depending on who is appointed as mayoral policy advisor, likely to further blur the lines between local and central government. Not a good thing as IMO the purpose of local government is to run a city, not give expression to a particular political philosophy. Depending on how influential the ‘policy advisor’ is, then governance management separation risks being compromised so there will be less transparency on who is actually making political decisions and possibly not someone people could vote for. I would rather see the money spent, if at all, on a few hours of secretarial and research support for every councillor. And an effort made for councillors to receive agendas considerably more than two days before meetings so they could have a better chance to understand what it is they are supposed to be deciding on. It will be interesting to find out whether Mayor Hawkins’ policy advisor will have Green Party links. I think all policy advisors should be employed by the CE and accountable to her, not the Mayor. Then their advice might be available to all elected reps. At worst, this is a move away from democracy.

The real reason for the increase in our rates....more staff to advise....Another council taxing us to the brim, delivering services that we do not want- except for those special interests....

Spend! Spend! Spend! This council is out of control. They have increased their borrowing to the max. Increased rates to the max and constantly fail to meet their own budgets while still promising to spend more on buses, cycle lanes, pedestrianisation and other pet projects. Coronavirus! Climate Emergency! Housing Crisis! I predict a financial crisis is on it's way for this council. The council owned companies have been in trouble for a while now with City Forests being the exception but that is all about to change with the drop in demand for timber. Natural disasters will hit Dunedin harder and more frequently and the UN recently reported on the housing crisis in NZ and how it is effecting the basic human rights of its citizens. So yea maybe Hawkins needs all the PR staff he can get!

What a load of rubbish! Any bets the person hired will be a friend or family member of the mayor or somebody on DCC? Raise our rates and waste our money! How many days until we can vote them out? O...I forgot, STV means we can never vote them out!

Here is a good job description Mr Mayor. Consummate yes-man. Able to find innovative ways to fix things the DCC and mayor repeatedly break. Must be able to read things that don't matter slowly, then write papers saying they do matter even slower, highlight points that don't matter, in order to waste ratepayer money. Master the ability to write words that no one wants to read in a manner that ensures that nothing ever happens. Demonstrate innovative ways to burn money in the spirit of climate change. Must be able to make climate change propaganda feel like folksy truisms. Applicant is able to advise DCC on ways to spend ratepayer money they thought they had. Also must be able to ensure the DCC spends far more money than estimated. Help DCC lie consistently to their constituents. Good communication essential; ability to call people who know what they're doing and ask them what they think they’re doing. Ability to misrepresent issues and simple campaign promise to the citizenry and turn them into complicated, incomprehensible non-promises which nobody can understand or possibly hope to fulfil. Ability to spend most of the day looking out the window and drink coffee. I hope this helps!

What a waste of ratepayer money. If the greens need to develop political strategy and policy then the party should pay for it.

Is this just how Mr Hawkins thinks? Don't pay for anything you can get ratepayers to pay for. He won't pay for his own transport prefering to sponge off others. So the party shouldn't pay for its policy makers. I wonder if he buys his own lunches or are they part of some council funded package?

I read this and thought What the Heck, nah I must be dumb as, I'm the first to admit I'm not the sharpest knife in the block, but I know when somebody is taking the Mickey. I thought I've got the wrong end of the stick so I held back on making a comment on reading these comments above. My initial thoughts were isn't that what the councillors do as a collective do discuss a vision and then as a collective ensure it meets policy and doesn't breach any policy and charters- often voicing such ideas in the DCC meetings is considered bullying and arrogant (but truely not the case). The DCC as stated has a policy department, Other Mayors have coped and Cull bluffed us all. Does this mean? Hawkins is lacking in his ability and is passing the buck. Like others have said I bet it is an old boys club person who will get the job, family of a mate of the Mayors catch my back and I'll scratch your back. I suspect that the role as communications adviser is already chosen and it is because Hawkins mumbles and isn't good at facing the music, so he will get his pleb to do his dirty work, - Spineless and cunning.

I think this issues highlights one of the biggest problems with the STV system. You don't get the best and the brightest. Hawkins may be a nice guy but he is obviously lacks the experience to deal with many of the issues he is facing. Lets face it, Dunedin is a Podunk little town that any University commerce school student could run. If Hawkins lacks the intellectual gravitas to run the city maybe he should tender his resignation. There is no way the job requires a policy advisor.

"A new position in the Dunedin mayor’s office will give "political advice around advocacy", what is this gobbledygook?, does it mean the 'mayor' doesn't have a clue and who will be selected?, somebody from the green party perhaps?.

"It’s less about peer review and second-guessing any advice you might get from existing staff, it’s more about having people who can look across our organisation and across our strategic framework and consider all those things in the round," Mr Hawkins said.

Sorry but I would have thought this was exactly what the Mayor should be doing, "looking across and considering in the round". Would an engaged Mayor dedicated to serving his community...second guess'?
So I see this as nothing more than 'job sharing and creation'. An 'advisor', whom we didn't vote for.
This is going very well.........isn't it?

To much work load for the mayor? The jobs defiantly not all tea and crumpets.

Glad I'm not paying for it.....hey hang on a sec!!!

This council keeps on putting its hands in other people's pockets, then wonders why it is intensely disliked.

Despite Cr Vandervis' personal flaws, it seems he is the only honest person in the DCC. The rest of them need to go.

Which is becoming abundantly clearJWinter....he's honest.
Since when should so called 'personal flaws' stand in the way of someone who's heart and conviction is in serving his community for the better. Who here has no 'personal flaws'.........lets all remember this at the next election. Enough of the mediocre TV and amature radio personalities with no experience in actually getting their hands dirty and running a business. Dunedin ratepayers and this city deserve better.

I am all for putting Vandervis in as Mayor and running the ship.
First we need to vet him to make sure that he has the skills to deliver. There must be hundreds of wide ranging projects that he has delivered to a successful conclusion during his multi term roll as a Councilier.
After a quick search I found nothing. Could it be that be that he has actually not actually even started anything at all????
So what you want is to install a person that can this job well, so you want Vendervus with 'personality flaws' and has zero experience despite serving three terms as a Councilier. Yep a really stupid idea!

This maybe why he needs a policy role https://iclei.org/en/our_network.html

So he can change Dunedin

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