Sludgegate: Shipley pressure too much for council
Sludgegate Update Day 16,
FREE RADICAL ON-LINE
5pm, Tuesday, 12 December 2000
Shipley pressure too much for Auckland Council
In mid 1997 Jenny Shipley wrote to Auckland City Council in early 1997 telling them Waiheke's sewage problem "requires urgent action." Michael McQuillan, council's Utility Planning Manager, was given the job of keeping her happy The Sludgegate trial was told today that he was put under some pressure from his masters to do so.
He told his bosses that he could have the Waiheke wastewater project operational by Xmas 1997. In fact, because of things "impacting beyond our control" he told the court it is still not operational at Xmas 2000! As council's barrister said in his opening, he might understandably be "a little miffed" at these plans being frustrated.
Indeed, he wrote to the Minister asking for some "intervention" to help council get around their frustrations with lengthy consents under the Resource Management Act (the same lengthy consents that all land owners must face). Finding no help from that quarter, he and his colleagues settled instead on utilising so-called "emergency powers" to circumvent the processes of the Resource Management Act.
But to cook your rabbit, you first have to catch it - in this case they had to ensure that there was an actual emergency. In fact, their lacklustre efforts over 1997 ensured that by Xmas that year there was very little cooking to do - Waiheke's septic tanks were about to overflow into the streets, and there were insufficient disposal sites to deal with the problem.
They went to the Xmas break that year with exactly four working days available in which to find a site for the overflowing septage. In those four days the holiday team 'stumbled' on the reserve on Adrian Chisholm's boundary.
The rest, unfortunately, is history.
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