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Well it did not take long for the redoubtable Sandra G. to get her feet under the table, and her hands into the cookie jar. First of all, the appointment as Chair ($36,000) of the newly formed Policy Committee where I thought she would be happy to exercise her ambition to act as gatekeeper on the District Plan.

Not a bit of it - that was far too far from the action. Today she was appointed a Commissioner (one of three) to the DP Hearings Committee. This will entitle her to claim a commissioners fee - probably in excess of $1,200 a day or thereabouts, for about four months of hearings, on top of whatever else she takes home from the Council. 

Sandra is no sluggard when it comes to this kind of thing - the remainder of the Council had clearly been fully 'briefed' on this move, and there was no dissent from around the table. The other nominees are Mark Farnsworth (with Iwi support), Alan Watson or Ian Munro - two to be appointed when their commitments to Auckland City are known early next year.

I would have to say that the dynamics within the room have changed substantially, as one might have expected with continuous comments, questions and objections being expressed from the Goudie corner where she is now well established. If I am not mistaken, I detected a frisson of annoyance elsewhere around the table at her 'hands-on' approach, and there may well be the reaction I alluded to after the first meeting before too long. And I noticed that she fidgets interminably when others speak.

Interestingly enough, Leach continues to humour her, and seldom interrupts, or disagrees with her on any of the many matters on which she has an opinion, but that won't last long I suspect. There was only one major disagreement when Peter French gave an interpretation of the law regarding public consultation of the Hauraki Spatial Group recommendations that she vociferously rejected, and Peter appeared to back down.

Then there is the question of the appointment of the Liquor Licensing Committee (and Chair)  that is now required under the new liquor arrangements. I recall Hoadley indicating a 'conflict of interest' on this subject at the beginning of the last meeting of the previous Council. My impression is that she has put her name forward for what is likely to be another lucrative appointment now that she is off the Council - I did not think that we would get rid of her that easily. At any rate, the matter was to be discussed in Public Excluded this afternon - see if I am wrong!

Later in the meeting, Peter French gave an update on the Hauraki Marine Spatial Steering Group that has proceeded to the appointment of members. The five names mentioned (out of ten - with 4 more Iwi appointmnets to come) are as follows - Colin Buchanan, Allison Henry, Alan Proctor, Jake Bartrum, and Dirk Sieling. (Apologies for any spelling mishaps - I was taking a verbal from Peter)

This is staggering - what we have is an almost entirely (apart from Allison Henry) industry dominated group, and Peter indicated that further appointments were possible. What is staggering is that when this Group was first proposed by David Taipari, that he called for equal membership between Iwi, and other, ostensibly to counter the LG and industry dominated Gulf Forum.  It seems that he has been totally sidelined on that score. The Spatial Group is to provide strategic direction, and comprise customary, commercial and recreational users. It is 'co-chaired by Penny Webster and Paul Majurey. 

I realise that there are many who will approve this balance - certainly our Council gave it is full approval, though Sandra Goudie questioned just why Allison Henry was named - there is some history there I suspect. It is a great shame that there is not more representation from environmental interests - I think that we are witnessing another piece of sleight of hand by vested interests.

There is no explanation as to why there is so much Whitianga representation, and virtually none from this side of the Peninsula. And just as a matter of interest, Dirk Sieling indicated to several councillors at the end of the  previous  Council term his strong belief that nitrogen effluent in the Waihou and Piako was enormously beneficial to the mussel industry. I leave you to work that one out.




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