24 November 2017
Hamilton City Council’s Complaints Committee met this morning (Friday, 24 November), following a complaint made under the Council’s Code of Conduct Policy about a communication on social media by Councillor Mark Bunting.
The complaint related to a video of a road sign which had displayed an offensive message and which was the subject of an online news article in New Zealand media. The video had been circulated on social media.
Cr Bunting sent the video as a private message to one of his Facebook contacts, who found the content of the video offensive. Screenshots of the video sent by Cr Bunting were subsequently posted on social media.
The Complaints Committee reviewed the video that was posted on the Newshub website, which was the same video that Cr Bunting sent.
The Complaints Committee reviewed the social media pictures uploaded by the recipient.
The Complaints Committee reviewed screenshots of the conversation between Cr Bunting and the recipient.
The Complaints Committee has reviewed other complaints made by members of the public.
Cr Bunting has stated that he was messaging the recipient in a personal capacity.
The Complaints Committee accepts that Cr Bunting did not make the video. The committee also accepts that Cr Bunting did not send the still image posted on the recipient’s social media account.
The Complaints Committee found the video contains material of a sexual nature which is inappropriate and offensive.
The Complaints Committee also found the video religiously offensive.
The Complaints Committee acknowledges the Mayor has reminded Councillors of expected standards both verbally and via email (copy at the end of this decision).
The Complaints Committee found that by Cr Bunting sending this video he has breached the Council’s Code of Conduct Policy.
Cr Bunting has offered his resignation from his position as Deputy Chair of the Community and Services Committee. The Complaints Committee accepted his resignation.
Cr Bunting has offered the Complaints Committee a written apology to release to the public. (Copy at the end of this decision).
The Complaints Committee recommends the Council accepts Cr Bunting’s resignation from the role of Deputy Chair of the Community and Services Committee.
The Complaints Committee recommends to the Chief Executive that a workshop be arranged for elected members to attend covering topics relating to the Code of Behaviour.
The Complaints Committee denounces any offensive, abusive and derogatory behaviour.
The Complaints Committee considers this matter closed.
Following this decision, the Complaints Committee met to consider a complaint about comments made by Cr Garry Mallett on Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint programme.
The complaint related to the phrase ‘limp-wristed.’
The Complaints Committee reviewed the context in which the comment was made and determined that in that context it did not breach the Council’s Code of Conduct Policy.
Cr Mallett was directed to attend and complete the Council’s workshop on Code of Behaviour.
The Complaints Committee consisted of Mayor Andrew King, Cr Leo Tooman and Cr Siggi Henry.
Statement from Councillor Mark Bunting:
Recently I privately shared a Newshub video with an acquaintance in an attempt to make her laugh.
In doing so I misjudged how offensive it would be to her and as a result how hurtful it could be to women, Christians and the general public. I misjudged badly and apologise unreservedly.
I will continue to serve the Hamilton community with honesty and am extremely motivated to win back the trust of those I have offended.
I am sorry.
Mayor Andrew King’s email to elected members, 18 August 2017:
Councillors are elected to represent the community and our behaviour in and out of the chamber needs to reflect that.
We must conduct ourselves with integrity, honesty and respect through leadership and act in a way that maintains public confidence in the good governance of the Council.
As politicians it is not right to be referring to race, culture, gender, faith or sexual orientation in a derogatory, inflammatory, insulting or offensive manner.
We are seeing anti-immigration rhetoric used by politicians both in New Zealand and abroad to gain political support.
This leads to racism, division and intolerance that can feed hate and hate crimes, as local politicians we have the ability to influence and stop this.
We as city leaders need to rise above cheap laughs and point scoring to show integrity and true leadership for our city.
I remind all Councillors that there is a process to follow when it comes to making complaints about another member’s conduct.