Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Life behind the veil at HBRC

Life behind the veil at HBRC

Tue, Feb 04 2014


As councillors get into gear for the coming year, it’s clear that secrecy will be the preferred modus operandi of the HB Regional Council.

At our first meeting on 29 January, the precedent has already been set.

At that meeting, we deliberated two agenda items in ‘public-excluded’ session.

The outcome of the first item has now been announced to the public. In that matter, we commissioned two independent reports that will be critical to evaluating the financial and economic viability of the proposed dam. One study, to be completed by Deloitte, will examine the financial/economic case for the dam and the risks involved in a HBRC (i.e., ratepayer) investment (if any) of $80 million in it. A second study, to be completed by Nimmo-Bell, will identify and evaluate alternative investments of scale that could be made to advance the strategic goals of the Regional Council.

There is absolutely no reason why the terms of reference for these studies could not have been released to the public in advance, and councillors’ interrogation of the candidate firms be witnessed. Indeed, public observation of the process would have been reassuring to skeptics of the proposed scheme. Financial terms and councillors’ deliberations over the candidates could have readily been kept private.

I’m comfortable with the assignments that have been awarded. However, I am not comfortable with the extremely short window the consultants have been given — essentially one month — to complete their assignments. This is just another example of the groundless determination of HBRC/HBRIC to hurry, hurry, hurry. Here’s where ‘hurry’ takes you …

Even the Board of Inquiry has asked for additional time to complete its deliberations … and that time has been granted. If the BOI needs more time after seven months to do its job well, surely so do these consultants need more than four weeks.

The second item considered in public excluded was publicly titled: “HBRIC Ltd Staff Remuneration Request”.

I can say nothing about the content of that item at this time. However, a number of councillors, myself included, are challenging the Council’s handling of the matter. We will fight to make public the decision taken, its documentation, and the votes cast. Watch this space.

The penchant for secrecy didn’t end there on the 29th.

Once the public excluded portion of the meeting was declared ended, thereby ending the official Council meeting (of course with media and the public long since gone), Chairman Fenton Wilson offered councillors the ‘opportunity’ to receive an update briefing on the dam from HBRIC Chairman Andy Pearce, who had been on hand for the second public excluded agenda item, and was still present.

Pearce began a presentation, but it was quickly noted that the ground rules were murky as to whether this briefing was to be considered public or confidential. Indeed, what was the official status of the ‘meeting’ at that point?

You’ll recall that Councillors Barker, Beaven, Graham and myself have been asking for a full public de-brief on the scheme ever since we were elected … a request that was re-issued days before the 29 January meeting and to which Chairman Pearce acceded. But, we were told, the briefing couldn’t be accommodated on that day.

After a bit of posturing by various councillors, it became clear that I was the party regarded with suspicion. [Councillor Barker had left immediately at the close of the official meeting to catch a plane.] The question on the table: If other councillors wished to proceed with an informal confidential briefing, would I pledge to report nothing of it?

I declined to participate in a rump private meeting. I gave my view that it’s past time for the public to have a wide-open look at the total scheme, with all its aspects and assumptions on the table. It’s time to take off the veil.

So I left the ‘meeting’ — or whatever it was — and the briefing commenced.

For me, the principle of transparency is paramount. I made that as clear as I possibly could during my election campaign and voters responded positively.

My intention is to press the HBRC towards transparency — the only basis of public accountability — at every opportunity. I intend to press the boundaries … vigorously. Anything less and I would be failing to keep faith with my constituency.

Tom Belford

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

  • Govt Probed Over Health & Safety
  • Questions and Answers 28-05-15
  • Week in Parliament 22-05-15
  • Saturday Sitting
  • House Rises At Midnight
  • Telco Levy Bill Passes
  • Telco Levy Bill Completes First Reading
  • Social Housing Bill Passes Under Urgency

  • Labour Party: McCully Doesn’t Deny Bribe In Saudi Sheep Scandal

    “In Parliament today I asked Murray McCully directly: Why is he the first Minister in history to back a multi-million dollar facilitation arrangement which in other jurisdictions is called a bribe? says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson ... More>>

    ALSO:

    Welfare: Closure Of Relationships Aotearoa

    The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) Chief Executive Lucy Sandford-Reed is concerned about the closure of a national service which provides a wide range of services to rural and urban communities throughout New Zealand. More>>

    ALSO:

    TPPA: University Of Auckland Warns Of Negative TPP Impact

    The University of Auckland May 20, 2015 University of Auckland Warns of Negative TPP Impact With the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation drawing to a close, the University of Auckland has expressed serious concerns about its potential implications. ... More>>

    NZ Flag: Flag Referendum Gets Hit Hard In New Poll

    The latest Campbell Live text poll confirms it is time for the Prime Minister to listen to the public and shelve his flag referendum, says the New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters. More>>

    Gordon Campbell: The Government’s Belated Moves On Property Speculation

    Is it a property tax on capital gains or a capital gains tax on property? The Jesuitical distinctions in the government’s spin about its latest moves on property speculators are all about whether the government can claim that it jumped, or confess that it ... More>>

    Grant Robertson:
    Key Can’t Just Be Prime Minister For Parnell

    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In a ... More>>


    Labour Party: More Regional Jobs Go In Corrections Reshape

    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka ... More>>

    ALSO:

  • NZ First - Prison Job Losses to Send Money Offshore
  • TPPA: ‘Team Obama’ Regroups On Fast Track, Still Not Deliverable

    ‘After yesterday’s stinging and unexpected defeat for the Obama administration’s attempt to advance Fast Track legislation in the US Senate, Senate leaders have worked up a compromise they think will get them past this blockage’, according to Auckland ... More>>

    NZ Government: 5,500 More Doctors And Nurses In Our Hospitals

    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a record number of doctors and nurses are working in District Health Boards across the country. More>>

    Controller and Auditor General: Katherine Rich Conflict of Interest Decision

    We are writing to you about a matter that has been raised with us by members of the public. More>>

    ALSO:

    Budget 2015: Andrew Little On The 2015 Budget

    Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, the Labour opposition leader attacked the government’s approach to economic issues facing New Zealand. He said they have been “more than reckless in their complacency” and “the next week’s budget will do nothing ... More>>

    Defence Force: NZDF Building Partner Capacity Mission Personnel In Iraq

    NZDF Building Partner Capacity Mission Personnel in Iraq The New Zealand Defence Force Building Partner Capacity training mission contingent is in place at Taji Military Complex in Iraq. The Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating says the ... More>>

    PM Press Conference: ACC Levy Cuts Announced

    In a press conference this afternoon in Wellington, ACC Minister Nikki Kaye proposed $500 million worth of ACC levy cuts. More>>

    Quakes: New Process For Red Zone Crown Offers

    Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced a process to give everyone a say on the Crown offers to owners of vacant, commercial/industrial and uninsured properties in the Residential Red Zone. More>>

    ALSO:

    Get More From Scoop

     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Regional
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news