Another Economic Development Appointment
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 11:48AM
Bill Barclay

Ben Dunbar-Smith who lives in Tairua, but most recently known to observers in this District as the main man for John Tregidga's ambitious aquaculture plans when he worked for HDC, has been appointed to the "newly established role of Economic Development Manager."

Ben has more recently worked on "raising third-party funding for the home insulation scheme run by the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority" according to the release. That sounds interesting!

It would however be staggering if the much trumpeted, but now 'dead in the water' aquaculture (fish-farming) scheme for the Hauraki Gulf into which Ben put so much effort is being used as the justification for his appointment. I cannot recall a single positive aspect that emerged from that futile and ill-considered scheme into which John Tregidga and Glenn Leach invested so much of their credibility, and our rates, aided and abetted by WRC incompetence.

It is not surprising that the loaded Enquiry, mounted by Government to promote the scheme at great cost, came up with a Report that provided not only economic justification, but environmental comfort. Unfortunately, potential investors did not agree, and vanished into the ether.

The fact that Ben Dunbar-Smith was one of the primary boosters behind the scenes for this debacle does not provide any confidence that his work for this Council will provide any greater level of success. He has  'presence' of course that he put to good effect during his introduction to Council on Wednesday by Gary Towler, and the presser that described his arrival on the scene is a masterpiece of over-inflated rhetoric.

It seems that Ben will be paying great attention to attracting more retirees to the District, but in the immediate future he will be:

"providing immediate assistance to existing industries such as aquaculture, forestry, light industry and commercial development – as well as assisting the Mayor’s vision of establishing greater linkages to the Auckland isthmus for Coromandel industries and crafts."

With all these people running around organising and encouraging economic development, this District should be booming in no time, but one suspects that the it is the usual bureaucratic hoop-la and smoke and mirrors that we see repeated endlessly. It is a mystery where the money is coming from to pay all these people, and keep them in style, but boosting Leach's vision had better be at the forefront of their activity, or they may find they have short tenure.

Good luck to Ben, and may he achieve great things, but I suggest that we should not hold our collective  breath.



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