I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed it this week. Hamilton’s political leadership has been under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, and I spy an over-riding theme that needs to be highlighted. Where are all the females? We are desperately in need of more diversity in our local Councils and Boards. Our political leadership is left wanting, because our current representation is pale, male and stale – an “old boys club”.
Let me share a few examples of why we need better leadership. Every news outlet in New Zealand picked up the story this week about Hamilton City Councillor, Mark Bunting sharing an offensive social media post with writer and destination playground advocate Angela Cuming. I’m sure you’ve seen enough of the details to not need a link, but just in case you missed it… Specifics of that issue aside, (other) women are feeling as if they are unable to call out elected Councillors for lacking professionalism and respect and again women don’t feel comfortable advocating for their city in public forums in front of Council. This is so wrong. It’s not a one off issue, it’s ongoing.
Say what you want at home and within your personal relationships – but uphold basic conduct in that Council chamber. Current Hamilton City Councillor Angela O’Leary has publically condemned, what she describes as inappropriate banter and conduct in our council chamber but it hasn’t stopped it from happening! We only have to look back at Gary Mallet’s slurs and documented jests at speakers in the public forum and to staff to know offensive, inappropriate and disrespectful commentary is an ongoing issue.
I wonder if this behaviour is further tolerated because we have no females in the Hamilton City Council’s executive management structure either. Between the eight of them and just 3 elected Councillors being female (out of 13) you can see the lack of balance and diversity in Council processes and decision making.
Another example of the “old boys club” at play is coming out of the Waikato District Health Board. How the heck can Bob Simcock still be knocking around? He has no integrity whatsoever – it’s all too matesy, “I got your back” for my liking… He was the Mayor of Hamilton at the time of one of the biggest Council stuff-ups in recent times. He basically “let slide” how badly staff decisions were being made regarding the V8’s and kept Councillors in the dark. And not alot has changed – still no accountability for his failures with the Nigel Murray case (he allowed the CEO to resign rather than charge him with fraud wtf?). Is this necessarily a male thing? No of course not; but we’re seeing a pretty bleak view of local political leadership at the moment.
Read an earlier post: Help get rid of Bob Simcock
This brings us to Hamilton East MP David Bennett. When he went on a tirade about “socialists” he showed a side of himself which isn’t at all respectful and inclusive to his constituents. We should be embracing diversity in ideologies, values and priorities, it can lead to better outcomes. Why is he unable to stick to constituency issues? If this is setting the tone for his time in opposition, I hope he gets another job really soon. I also noticed his treatment towards other females standing in the recent general election was patronising and lacked even basic professionalism. And that was just observation from being in the audience, I shudder to think how they felt.
It comes down to respect, pure and simple. We teach our kids this, so it’s time to set the example.
So why are we voting in more of the same? Because women just aren’t putting their hands up for roles like males do. There are a myriad of reasons why someone would choose not to run, but I hope this “old boys club” isn’t one of them. It would be a huge shame, because with more of the same – how can it be different? better? It’s time to stand up – call our current political leaders out on their B.S and get the job done.
Nominations just opened for the Hamilton City Council by-election, and will remain open until December 22nd. If you’re a female considering putting your hand up for the by-election please do! We need better representation and an end to this crap.