Six late submissions to Whanganui District Council's long-term plan have not just pushed their own particular case, they have also promoted the notion of greater transparency at council.
Late submissions have traditionally been accepted by council but when councillors sat to hear submissions on Wednesday, May 2, there was a call for a vote on whether to include the six that had missed the April 19 deadline.
By six votes to five, with two abstentions, it was agreed the late offerings would be accepted — a decision which followed legal advice that to rule out the submissions could leave council open to a judicial review, particularly as precedent had been set by accepting them in the past.
But that split vote has had wider ramifications.
Five of the six late submissions were from iwi and some observers felt the move to reject them was on racial grounds.
Chronicle readers have suggested that it should have been recorded who voted to accept and who voted to reject, and that such a practice should be part of council procedure.
That way, come election time, people could make a more informed choice at the ballot box armed with information on how councillors had voted on key issues.
The Chronicle supports that idea. It is one that promotes greater transparency and accountability from our elected representatives, and one that serves the voting public.
Council rules only require individual votes to be recorded if requested by an elected member, but this should happen as a matter of course.
Council has suggested it would need to invest in electronic equipment to make such a record, but surely a simple show of hands could allow each of the 13 councillors' preference to be noted as "in favour" or "against".
The Chronicle is asking council to make such a change to its standing orders.