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Coromandel Harbour Project

It is interesting to note that Hammond has chosen to release an “update” on the situation with the Coromandel Harbour Project rather than present a paper as would normally be the case to the Economic Development Committee that meets on Tuesday (9 June) – again in Whitianga for “the convenience of members.” There is a “Supplementary” agenda due out shortly that may, and probably will correct this situation, but it is still interesting that he chose to release the information in this manner. (Footnote - no, no mention of the Coromandel Harbour Project in the Supplementary - all very puzzling, and makes you wonder about the role of the EDC!

Nothing has changed really since my earlier post on the subject following the last meeting of the EDC. What may be considered ‘new’ in this Release is the clarification of his (Hammond’s) role in this new set-up as “Project Sponsor,” and the almost complete side-lining of Greg Hampton from the equation – it is not clear whether this includes Francois Pienaar – Greg’s engineer off-sider. Presumably so because the Release announces the appointment of one Barry Ogilvie to project manage the Sugarloaf project.

"The project management changes allows our Area Manager and community-based staff to concentrate on core roles and provides for a dedicated project manager for the Sugarloaf Wharf upgrade - which is the first strand of work we're focusing on in the short-term," says Mr Hammond.

The Release goes on to outline the immediate work to be done at Sugarloaf while the so called Inner Harbour Project apparently goes on the back-burner while commercial interest  is investigated – a rather futile activity I would have thought. Weasel words are used to write-off the Furey’s Creek option (remember – the $7m one!), in favour of the $60m Inner Harbour option.

So while Hammond has not completely killed it off, the wording suggests otherwise, and that is a relief. It appears that our Chief Executive has made this obvious decision without the need to consult with the much vaunted Economic Development Committee. I wonder how they will react to that on Tuesday.

“Our preferred partners would be regional and central government, but we also need to test the market for interest”.

That is a joke – there is no way that either suggested partners are ‘champing at the bit’ to get a piece of this action. What it amounts to is a complete ‘back-down’ on another of Leach’s Legacy projects, and I am afraid he will just have to accept that it is not going to happen. And as for Barry Brickell’s Pier – the contribution of a token $10k towards a “business case” is obviously designed to keep Barry at bay, and says it all really. Forget it! I have sat through discussion on the subject, and it was treated as an annoying distraction from day one! Though if Barry and his “team” can come up with cheap ‘face-saver’, it may get up, but I would certainly not bet the house on it.

Which brings us back to the Sugarloaf. This is almost certain to proceed, regardless of the uncertainty surrounding the Coromandel Marine Farmers Association, and the inevitable appeal from the Te Kouma residents against the entire project. The suggestion in the Release that an MOU is being finalised with the CMFA to “guide the relationship between the two parties” is another face-saver. As I have indicated ad nauseum there is no way that the CMFA can legally bind its members to the payment required to fund its share of the Resource Consent unless its members can be persuaded to pay ‘up-front’ – a highly unlikely outcome, and Council will be ‘whistling in the dark’ when it ‘comes to the crunch.’

The upgrade will go ahead regardless, all at our risk and cost, that was obvious at the start despite all Leach’s bluff and bluster about the CMFA. Gibert James has always had the upper hand, even though agreeing to the window dressing appointment of a “consent planner” is also announced in the Release. And you can bet that we will be paying for that appointment one way or another!

Make no mistake, the Sugarloaf project is a major back-down from the original brainstorm. The writing was on the wall from the time that the WRC admitted defeat in regard to the famous aquaculture (Kingfish) project in the face of zero commercial interest. We can all be thankful for that – never mind the economic consequences, the environmental effects would have been disastrous.

Consultants have made a poultice out of this whole shemozzle from day one, and it appears that this will continue with further more extensive sediment sampling suggested. It would be infinitely preferable if the Economic Development Committee were to recommend to Council that no further funding be provided for the Inner Harbour project. The trouble is that they have no ‘skin in the game,’ – no one can be held responsible for the continued waste of rate-payer derived resources. 

Forgive me if this post is dripping with sarcasm and irony. It is inevitable in view of the staggering level of ‘spin’ that has accumulated around the entire project from the time that Leach latched on to it, and pushed like hell to have it implemented in the face of clear logic to the contrary. It is not Greg Hampton's fault that it has come to this - he was on a 'loser to nothing' from the outset. All of them should be starting to understand that there are consequences for allowing  themselves to be bullied around by Leach - by all means allow Hammond to be the 'fall-guy' for a change!




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