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Public Consultation on Ruataniwha Scheme a Farce

Public Consultation on Ruataniwha Scheme a Farce:

“For the Regional Council to have triggered public consultation on whether or not the people of Hawke’s Bay should invest $80,000,000 in the Ruataniwha Dam scheme is ludicrous” says Pauline Elliott of Transparent Hawke’s Bay.

“The material produced to support this decision; a “Better to Know” marketing campaign, at a cost to ratepayers of $85,000, is just that: a misleading promotion of the scheme with no critical facts giving public the information needed to decide whether or not this would be a good investment.”

“In fact, the Regional Council has determined that it’s better not to know the facts” she says.

“For example, the final Board of Inquiry decisions will not be known until the end of the month (it is understood the council and its investment arm are attempting to re-litigate some of the draft decisions); the final peer review report of the business case from Deloitte, due on 30 April, is not yet available; there are no confirmed institutional investors; the final construction and design cost has not been ‘locked down’; and there are no confirmed agreements for the sale of water,” says Ms Elliott Early last year Transparent Hawke’s Bay was just one of the concerned groups that asked for all the facts to be “on the table” before pursuing a costly inquiry. This was rejected, and the public were assured that all facts would be known at the time of the planned public consultation.

“What we now have is an $85,000 marketing campaign devoid of any critical information and stating that the scheme “should not”, “is not intended to” or “will not” have an impact on rates. This at best is misleading, at worst, a deception. It cannot possibly be known at this point what the effect on rates will be over the next 5 – 10 years and beyond. Money invested will not earn a return for ten or more years, revenues from previous assets have been sold; other equity investors will have a priority on dividend returns. The Crown may or may not invest. If they do, it will be as a secured loan for a limited time.

The Long Term Plan 2012 put an estimated cost of this scheme at $170m. It is now $275m and rising with the latest unofficial figure at $297m.

The people of Hawke’s Bay deserve the full facts on this massive investment – not a “tick the box” exercise.

Ends

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