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Playing the person rather than playing the ball

Irrigation New Zealand called out for playing the person rather than playing the ball

Thursday, September 29, 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 expressed dismay regarding the behaviour of Irrigation New Zealand's Chief Executive Andrew Curtis regarding a Tweet posted by Irrigation New Zealand labelling Mr Fraser 'a shonky economist'.

The tweet, posted on 21 September, read as follows:

@irrigationNZ - @fishandgame pay shonky economist to criticise storage project but forgot it feasibility study to explore options (with link to Stuff article)

"It is disappointing - but unfortunately not surprising - that Irrigation New Zealand has descended into gutter tactics of 'playing the person', rather than 'playing the ball'. In addition to be being unprofessional and unnecessary, personal attacks are just distasteful" Mr Fraser said.

Mr Fraser further explained that he phoned Mr Curtis to request that the tweet be deleted. A belligerent Mr Curtis not only refused to do so but stated Mr Fraser was indeed 'a shonky economist who wrote shonky reports'.

"Look, I'm not expecting Irrigation New Zealand to like what I say, but I do expect a level of maturity that permits an informed debate - rather than ritual histrionics. The simple point is Mr Curtis has had the Wairarapa Report for over a week - and my previous work on the Ruataniwha for over two years - and in neither case has he made a single statement of substance, identified an error of fact, or an error in interpretation regarding my work; and I suspect that if there was one I would know about it by now. It therefore seems that Mr Curtis talks a big game but is unable to deliver" Mr Fraser said.

Mr Fraser also noted that one of the advantages of Twitter is that it has rules against abusive and defamatory behaviour by members, so the offending tweet was quickly removed after Mr Fraser reported it. Mr Fraser also noted in the week it was posted the tweet attracted precisely zero shares and only one 'like' - and that was from someone in Texas.

"Whilst Mr Curtis's statements are clearly defamatory, on balance, I suspect they have actually strengthened my credibility and professional reputation, of which I am thankful - indeed, Mr Curtis's criticisms are a perverse type of affirmation, so I suppose I should really thank him for that" Mr Fraser said. "Nevertheless, I will be writing to Irrigation NZ Chair Nicky Hyslop expressing my disappointment at Mr Curtis's unbecoming behaviour and request that he reconsider his approach to dealing with people who may not happen to agree with him".

"At the end of the day, unsubstantiated name calling is inappropriate behaviour for children and it is most definitely inappropriate behaviour for a chief executive leading an industry advocacy organisation" Mr Fraser said.

Ends


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