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

More Evidence - Scoop Press Conference Recordings:
PM's Post-Cab Presser 8/8/11
"at that point [Tucker] told me he'd release it ..."

Hager Revelations: Inquiry Into NZSIS Release Of Goff Docs

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS), Cheryl Gwyn, announced she would be instituting an inquiry concerning allegations that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) might have released official information to Mr Cameron Slater, regarding briefings provided to the then Leader of the Opposition, for political purposes...

“I am satisfied there is a sufficient public interest justifying the commencement of an own-motion inquiry into the substance of the issues raised with my Office,” said Ms Gwyn. More>>

Goff: Director’s Letter Contradicts Key’s Claims

At yesterday’s media standup, when asked on the topic John Key said ‘I wasn’t told’...
“In a letter dated November 2011 former SIS director Warren Tucker states three times that ‘in accordance with the usual practice of keeping the minister informed’ the Prime Minister had been told. More>>


 

Parliament Today:

Schools, PPTA Sign Up: Primary Teachers And Principals Vote Down Govt Plan

Teachers and principals have voted overwhelmingly against the Government’s controversial “Investing in Educational Success” policy, including proposed highly-paid principal and teacher roles. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Usual Round Of Mud Slinging And Name-Calling

This week gave an interesting example of how hard it is to untangle the reality from the slanging matches. The issue that emerged early this week could hardly be more important. Does the government intend to cut spending in health, education and on the environment if re-elected, or not? More>>

Earlier:

Electionresults.co.nz: National and NZ First Rise in Roy Morgan Poll

National has bounced back in the latest Roy Morgan Poll but the big winner has been New Zealand First who rise to their highest level of support since September 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Fish Pun Warning: By Hoki! It’s Labour’s Fisheries Policy

A Labour Government will protect the iconic Kiwi tradition of fishing by improving access to the coast, protecting the rights of recreational fishers and reviewing snapper restrictions, Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. More>>

ALSO:

It's Official: Governor General Gives Direction To Conduct Election

The Governor General has signed the writ directing the Electoral Commission to conduct the General Election on 20 September 2014. This is the formal authority to run the 2014 election, and enables candidate nominations to open tomorrow Thursday 21 August 2014. More>>

Gordon Campbell: No More Mr Nice Guy

When future historians seek to identify the exact moment when the prime ministerial career of John Key hit the downward slope, they may well point to Key’s interview yesterday with Guyon Espiner on RNZ’s Morning Report. More>>

ALSO:

Dirty (Politics) Weekend: Collins’ Admission Reason For Key To Act

"Despite claiming that the evidence about her in Nicky Hager's book was ‘false’ Judith Collins has now been forced to admit that she did send information about a Ministerial Services staff member to Cameron Slater for him to use in a baseless smear campaign. More>>

ALSO:

Potential Disasters: Underground Coal Fire On Denniston Plateau

Forest & Bird says one or more coal fires have broken out beneath the Denniston Plateau, and that the Department of Conservation (DOC) must stop Bathurst Resources’ preparatory mining work going on there until the fire or fires are extinguished. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news