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MPI scores own goal over botched funding critique

Ministry for Primary Industry scores own goal over botched funding critique for proposed Wairarapa Dams

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Media Release for immediate release: Rōpere Consulting Limited

Peter Fraser, Principal - Rōpere Consulting, and author of the Fish and Game commissioned report Economic Review of Wairarapa Water's Application for Stage 2 (Feasibility) Funding from the Irrigation Acceleration Fund rejects criticisms outlined in a statement released by MPI yesterday by Deputy-Director General Ben Dalton.

In comments attributed to Mr Dalton, the statement declared "the premises within Peter Fraser’s analysis are flawed, and based on old information".

The 'old information' in question is a series of land use change assumptions from a 2014 Report by Butcher Partners (commissioned by the Wairarapa Water) where assuming a long run milk price in excess of $7.00 kgMS dairying in the Wairarapa was projected to grow by 50% thereby covering 55% of prospective irrigated area - and as a result generate up to 1,100 new jobs.

"I agree with Mr Dalton this is old information - indeed, I labelled it 'outdated and misleading' in the report" Mr Fraser said.

"It is unfortunate that Mr Dalton seems poorly informed as the 'old information' he refers to was employed by Wairarapa Water, not me. The simple facts are Wairarapa Water submitted a funding application in 2016 that used 2014 numbers that Mr Dalton accurately describes as 'old information'. As a result of this 'old information', Wairarapa Water's funding application paints a highly misleading picture of projected scheme benefits. Mr Dalton's staff then failed to pick this unfortunate fact up - and as a result MPI Director General Martyn Dunne approved Wairarapa Water's application of over $800,000 based on 'old information'.

"All I am doing is calling out the unfortunate combination of a shonky funding application and the failure of an assessment agency to do its job. While the facts are painful, it is a unfair and unnecessary to 'shoot the messenger'" Mr Fraser said.

Mr Fraser also corrected a second statement attributed to Mr Dalton where "[Fraser] was also incorrect to say the scheme is reliant on 55% of the land-use being dairy. Latest information shows a small short-term increase in dairy (from 36% to 38%), including dairy support as a result of the scheme, followed by a long-term decrease (down to 29%)".

Mr Fraser noted "Mr Dalton has been poorly advised yet again, as the purpose of the report was assessing the merits of a funding application, not an assessment of the viability of an entire scheme - so the statements attributed to Mr Dalton are simply irrelevant. However, by confirming dairying will decline (rather than expand as portrayed in Wairarapa Water's funding application) Mr Dalton reaches the identical conclusion that I do - thereby further emphasising just how ridiculous Wairarapa Water's 55% dairying number was."

"Given this is precisely the point I am making, Mr Dalton has therefore scored something of an 'own goal'" Mr Fraser said.

Mr Fraser concluded "It seems MPI's carelessness with its assessment of Wairarapa Water's IAF application is now only matched by its misrepresentation of the report I authored - and whilst unfortunate, one must admire their consistency. I am therefore disappointed that MPI did not contact me and seek clarification before rushing to judgment - as this embarrassment could have been easily avoided.


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