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Discussion Document On Economic Package Flawed

Discussion Document on $92 Million Economic Package Flawed

A discussion document issued yesterday to all West Coast household's seeking views on the entity to manage government's $92 million economic package has come under fire as being flawed and deficient, Scoop's West Coast correspondent, John Howard, reports.

The discussion document, jointly published by the Government and West Coast councils, puts up two possible options for an entity to manage the money - a charitable trust and a joint committee of councils.

A charitable trust, favoured by the regional council, provides for an appointing/governing body to be elected by an electoral college system - seemingly, the same type of system used in the US presidential elections which was recently criticised by Scoop columnist, Keith Rankin, as being bad democracy.

Coaster's are now saying very few New Zealanders would understand an electoral college system and, what's more, there are three other options which have not been canvassed in the discussion document - a separate committee with its own legislation, a foundation or a joint council committee with its own legislation.

The discussion document has also been slammed as unfair because it does not provide a method to allow each member of a household to record differing views.

The envelope was addressed to "The Householder" - much like some junk mail is addressed - and when opened just one opinion could be recorded.

Coaster's feel that's unfair because each member of a household may hold widely differing views yet there is no provision to express those views.

There are also fears that it may be seen as "junk mail" and consigned to the rubbish bin unopened.

Exactly why the Government, who authorised the final discussion document, did not use the electoral roll and the postal voting system currently used at local body elections, is unclear at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, the West Coast Times has published a report which says a top Wellington legal firm has slammed a report that favours a charitable trust which was commissioned by the West Coast Regional Council.

"Wellington legal firm, Simpson Grierson, levelled criticism at the regional council's report saying it makes incorrect assumptions and does not adequately explain why it favours a trust over a combined council committee," the paper said.

"Alarmed by attempts from several quarters to shape public thinking towards a trust prior to public consultation, the Coast's three district councils commissioned Simpson Grierson to critique the regional council's report," West Coast Times journalist, Ian Gill, wrote.

" If Simpson Grierson are right, the regional council report contains misleading information that has made its way into the public consultation document released on this issue yesterday." Mr Gill wrote.

It remains unclear how a charitable trust can be used for anything but charitable purposes. Coaster's are also asking if charity now includes economic development and business.

The Office of the Auditor-General has also been asked to make inquiries whether the regional council has authority under the Local Government Act to use ratepayers money to commission a report when economic development is not one of its core functions.

More than two years ago the West Coast Regional Council voted not to fund tourism from rates and Coaster's are now saying it can't have it both ways.

Like the three district councils, the regional council has already sliced $7 million off the top of the original $120 million which leaves the $92 million to invest.

A recommendation is to go forward to Government from some West Coaster's, asking it to place the $92 million in an interest bearing deposit account in favour of the West Coast until the matters raised can be resolved.

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