Wellington Scoop

Getting up to mischief – the “dinosaur attitude” of a council media advisor

by Hayley Robinson
When the Wellington candidate information booklets went out, a human error meant that my photo was squashed along the horizontal axis. I was still recognisable, if odd looking, but I trust voters not to make snap judgements based on image.

However, on seeing that a mistake with another candidate’s name had resulted not only in a public apology, but also the posting out of thousands of correction letters, I met privately with Mr Charlie Inggs, Electoral Officer at WCC, to ensure that he knew I did NOT wish any corrections to be sent out if anyone else noticed something amiss with the photo. He was extremely courteous, apologised for the error, and we agreed that he would issue a press release with a simple apology.

Today I received an e-mail where I was clearly the intended recipient. I do not agree with keeping the details confidential as it concerned myself.

Mr Inggs had been instructed by the Wellington City Council’s Media Advisor, Mr Richard Maclean, to come back to me, and tell me that the print media might get up to “mischief” with this issue. Attached was Mr Maclean’s original e-mail which contained such gems as “I wonder whether we should gently tell Hayley…” and “We also worry that the apology may bring unwanted attention on Hayley…” and “I am more than happy to try to convince Hayley if it helps in any way, shape or form…”

When two thinking adults get together and make a sensible decision, it should be respected. I have serious doubts that a male candidate would have been treated in the same fashion. Mr Maclean could have come directly to me rather than force the Electoral Officer into an uncomfortable position in this way.

As a WCC media advisor, I am surprised that he is naïve enough to imagine that the issue would not be out in online social media networks.

We want more women to put their hands up for civic duty. I was perfectly well aware when I stood that I would take some flak along the way. I am not some delicate flower. I hope this dinosaur attitude is not indicative of a general culture within our City Council.

Hayley Robinson is a candidate for the Onslow-Western ward of the Wellington City Council


  1. Peter Kennedy, 25. September 2013, 19:45

    Sadly Hayley, if you are elected, it’s part of the ‘culture’ you’ll encounter within the Wellington City Council. It’s not gender driven, it’s just that over the years the Councillors have relinquished many of their responsibilities and duties to the Officers, so that now the Officers feel they are in control of Council. The ‘great’ Richard MacLean is in charge of their Public Relations Department; my encounters with him have been less than amicable, to say the least. Even when I have been proven to be right, he has never, ever apologised. That same goes for many other ratepayers he has also demeaned. That’s why I believe we need a fundamental ‘culture change’ both on the Council, and within the Council. There is no accountability within either sector.

  2. Digby, 26. September 2013, 8:32

    Peter – perhaps you feel aggrieved because Richard MacLean doesn’t suffer fools? Unfortunately, you’ll find that voters are equally insensitive.

  3. Peter Kennedy, 26. September 2013, 20:23

    Digby – I once recall you agreed with me. Shock, horror. Methinks Digby duth protest too much.