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

 


Voting on the dam

Voting on the dam

Thu, Jun 26 2014


This past Wednesday, I voted against committing $80 million of ratepayer funds to the Ruataniwha dam scheme.

During the debate, which can be viewed online here, pressure from the four dam skeptics — myself and Councillors Barker, Beaven and Graham — succeeded in ensuring that final approval of the dam, contingent upon several conditions the project is far from satisfying, would come back before the Regional Council by 30 September for another vote.

Consequently, your elected Councillors will still need to give final approval to the scheme, considering all of its aspects.

The requirements still to be met include unconditional sales contracts for 40 million cubic metres of irrigation water, a satisfactory investor/financing package, a firm construction contract that caps HBRC liability, and a workable set of environmental mitigation conditions.

Since not one of these conditions was satisfied on Wednesday, in my view it was premature — in fact, irresponsible — to be voting at that time on any ratepayer investment in the project.

Thursday, the Board of Inquiry released its final decision on management of the Tukituki catchment and the dam. That decision will take some time to comprehend, but I expect to offer some initial assessment over the weekend.

Meantime, here are the comments I made at the conclusion of Council debate …

Statement on HBRC Investment Decision

The process we are following to make this investment decision is indefensibly defective.

In the overview of her report on the Kaipara Council’s mismanagement of its $63 million wastewater scheme, the Auditor-General wrote:

“This report highlights lessons about governance – such as the need for members of a governing body to have the courage to keep asking questions until they understand what they are deciding…”

As Councillors we still await detailed information on critical contractual and financial assumptions. The only financial briefing from HBRIC to Councillors was verbal and presented in a workshop … a practice also criticised by the A-G.

As Councillors we have not been permitted to engage with the supposedly independent consultant, Deloitte, selected to advise us on the viability of the project, despite the fact that it is we Councillors, not the staff, their insights are intended to satisfy. As we sit here today Deloitte concedes that it cannot actually give a final assessment of the project’s viability.

Meanwhile, total mystery prevails around the readiness of farmers to actually back their rhetoric with their dollars, and around the conditions and escape clauses they are being offered to do so.

Most foolishly, we are asked to authorize an investment today that might be rendered entirely moot by the BOI within 48 hours, given HBRIC’s interpretation, or further challenged in court.

And regarding the BOI, as much as senior leaders of this Council and HBRIC attempt to paper over the fact, the draft decision of the BOI to reject the environmental mitigation scheme proffered by HBRC is a blow to the credibility of the scheme team. If they got it wrong on the Plan Change, where else have they got it wrong – on the ability of the dam to supply sufficient water in dry years, in the projected increases in farm productivity in an area with serious limiting factors other than water, on the claimed jobs and downstream economic benefits?

Critical as they are, my lingering concerns in these areas are trumped by the deficiencies in our decision-making readiness, as I’ve outlined.

From the Kaipara report: “There is a tendency to discount such points as bureaucratic, but they are fundamental to an effective and trusted public sector. In several reports recently, we have emphasised that, in the public sector, decisions have to not only be right but also be seen to be right. The process for decisions also matters, because the use of public money and power has to be clearly and properly authorised.”

The process this Council is following makes it impossible for me today to properly meet my fiduciary responsibilities to the ratepayers of Hawke’s Bay and to their environment. And I am not prepared to hand those responsibilities over to HBRIC, anointing them to judge whether requisite conditions are satisfied, which is the recommended proposal.

This investment is not ripe for a vote, even a symbolic one that would suggest that a compelling case has been made, which is where the amended language leaves us today.

Consequently I have only one option and that is to vote against the proposed Regional Council investment in the Ruataniwha scheme.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

2040 Target And Lower Standards: “Swimmable” Rivers Five Times More Likely To Make You Sick

Forest & Bird has condemned the government’s new water quality standards, warning New Zealanders that they lock in current levels of water pollution and allow for a 5-fold increase in the chance of getting sick from swimming in a river.

“Despite an explicit assurance from Minister Smith that the new water standards would provide for human and ecosystem health, he has failed to deliver on either of these things,” says Forest & Bird CEO Kevin Hague. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Immigration: Clampdown On Rogue Employers Good First Step

The Human Trafficking Research Coalition is pleased at the new clampdown on rouge employers who exploit migrants announced by Minister Woodhouse this morning, and believes this is a step in the right direction. More>>

ALSO:

Mayor: 750 New Social And Affordable Homes For Wellington (Over A Decade)

The next stage of Wellington’s Housing Upgrade Programme will see at least 750 new units of social and affordable housing built over the next decade, Mayor Justin Lester has announced. More>>

ALSO:

22/2: Christchurch Quake Memorial Unveiled

A city, a region, a nation and an international community impacted by the Canterbury Earthquakes will come together to mark the sixth anniversary of the deadly quake and dedicate Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. More>>

ALSO:


November Quakes:

Gordon Campbell: On The Mana-Maori Party Deal

If the self-interest involved wasn’t so blatant, the electorate deal between the Maori Party and Hone Harawira would be kind of poignant. It’s a bit like seeing the remaining members of Guns’n’Roses or the Eagles back on the road touring the nostalgia circuit… playing all the old hits of Maori unity and kaupapa Maori politics. More>>

ALSO:

Private Provision: First Social Bond To Focus On Mental Health

New Zealand’s first social bond will help around 1700 people with mental illness into work, Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Social Investment Minister Amy Adams say. More>>

ALSO:

Immigration: Short Reprieve For Nine Indian Students

A temporary hold on deportations of nine Indian students is a step in the right direction but the Government urgently needs to implement safeguards to stop further injustices to more international students, the Green Party says. More>>

EARLIER:


Megaupload Case: High Court Rules Dotcom, Co-Accused Eligible For Extradion

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and his three co-accused are eligible for extradition to the United States, New Zealand's High Court ruled... Justice Murray Gilbert upheld a decision by the District Court that there were grounds for Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato to be extradited. More>>

ALSO:

PREVIOUSLY:

Port Hills Fire: Midday Update, Monday 20 February

• 9 homes destroyed
• 2 homes with partial damage. Damage includes things like cracked windows, heat damage.
• 3 properties with damage to other external structures e.g sheds or outbuildings More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news