30 Oct 2017

West Coast by-election could cost $9k

4:06 pm on 30 October 2017

By Lee Scanlon for The Westport News

A Seddon Ward by-election to replace former Buller District councillor Martin Hill could cost ratepayers up to $9000.

Buller municipal chambers

Buller municipal chambers Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Mr Hill was forced to quit a fortnight ago after the council discovered he was an Australian.

The law requires all candidates for local or central government positions to hold New Zealand citizenship.

Mr Hill told The News at the time that he had believed Australia and New Zealand had reciprocal rights. He received 306 votes when he won the Seddon Ward a year ago.

Mayor Garry Howard said today that a by-election was likely to cost about $3000 if no election was required (one candidate only) and up to $9000 if an election was needed (more than one candidate).

"The main component of this cost is advertising and printing/postage."

Mr Howard said the Electoral Office was not bound to refer Mr Hill to police because it was debatable whether the councillor "knowingly" breached the Electoral Act when he filled out his nomination form.

In a similar case in Whangarei, Jayne Golightly resigned as a councillor last month after a revelation she was a UK citizen. Whangarei electoral officer Dale Ofsoske told The News he had referred Ms Golightly to police because he believed he was obliged by law to do so, and believed Buller would have to do the same for Mr Hill.

This article first appeared in The News.

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