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Minister Tolley Strangely Silent on Horizon responsibility

Minister Tolley Strangely Silent on Horizon responsibility.

A national freshwater fishing organisation is wondering why local government minister, Anne Tolley is ‘missing in action’ over the legal debacle surrounding Horizons Regional Council.

Recently the Environment Court agreed with Fish & Game NZ and the Environmental Defence Society that Horizons had been issuing water quality consents that were both illegal and contrary to its own One Plan. Michael McCartney, Horizons' chief executive, said the council stood by its record in "driving improvement in the state of our regional environment”.

However an editorial in the Manawatu Standard was critical commenting "if Horizons is driving, it's asleep at the wheel”. Legal expert Geoffrey Palmer was similarly critical, commenting "The illegality of the council’s decision-making was quite stunning’--So complete was the council’s forensic defeat, even though Fonterra and Federated Farmers fought hard to defend it, that questions must be asked as to how such a parlous state of affairs could come to pass in an organ of New Zealand local government. The council did not follow the Act.”

Ken Sims, spokesman for the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers - a national fishing organisation asked, “Did the legal opinions given suggest that such activity was not accidental?

“Questions have been raised that need to be answered,” he said. “Local Government acts under the regulation of National Government” he said. “Was Anne Tolley as the relevant Minister unacceptably ignorant of the illegal activities happening within her own portfolio, or was she was complicit with it?”

He said ministerial responsibility and duty was to the forefront of the issue. “The public needs reassurance that not only is she on top of this situation, but such illegalities are not being perpetrated elsewhere”.

“Surely, the illegal activities of one of the government bodies she is responsible for is something that should concern her. And yet, the silence from Minister Tolley has been deafening. There’s not been a single public statement. Is she also ‘asleep at the wheel’, or just hoping that the whole sorry mess will be swept under the carpet?” asked Mr Sims.


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