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TCDC "Productivity Plan"

If you imagined for one moment that the prospect of accessing the Shane Jones’s ‘Provincial Growth Fund’ may have escaped the eagle eyes of our local body politicians, and Council staff, have another think.

The absolute hypocrisy surrounding this Fund is clear, and represents a return to bad old days of subsidies, and the favoring of sectors, companies and individuals who make the required obeisance in the direction of the current Government, Party or Minister – in this case Mr Jones.

The result is to be seen in a paper that goes to Council next Tuesday (11 December) prepared by the Communications and Economic Development Group Manager Laurna White, headed "Endorsement of the TCDC Productivity Plan,"   which does appear a rather overblown title for what amounts to a fairly lightweight document. 

I quote below from the "Background of the Plan Business Case" If this constitutes the totality of the case, then it would appear that Mr Jones's bureaucrats are under great pressure 'to get the money out there' - even he has stated as such, but in doing so, they are certainly not serving taxpayers.

"In August 2018 the Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones met with Mayor Sandra Goudie, TCDC Chief Executive Rob Williams and senior staff to discuss potential projects within the district that had merit for the PGF. At this meeting the TCDC wider economic development programme work streams were discussed, along with a more specific focus particularly on aquaculture related projects. [my bold1] The Minister signalled that he expected our Council would be making applications to the Provincial Growth Fund on some projects that sat under the work streams.

Following the meeting, Council staff and Rationale developed the Thames-Coromandel Productivity Plan (Attachment A) and completed the draft feasibility report for Kopu as a potential marine servicing centre (Attachment B). Business cases for both these projects have since been submitted as applications to the Provincial Growth Fund, so work can be progressed faster and not be entirely reliant on ratepayer money."

Make no mistake, the Productivity Plan is primarily a cover for the proposed Coromandel Aquaculture Development that simply cannot, and will not occur without manifest input from Government and Councils to the extent that any commercial venture will become nothing more than another great subsidised rort with all the risk lying in the public arena, and in the unlikely event of success, the profit privatised.

"The TCDC Productivity Plan is focused on high value opportunities, with five targeted work streams proposed:       

    1.        Land use
    2.        Land productivity.
    3. Connected journeys – roading, data connectivity, water and air transport.
    4. Aquaculture.
    5. Destination management and tourism."

As for the Kopu Marine Service Facility Precinct – here is the summary of the business case:

“An off-shoot of the aquaculture work stream in the TCDC Productivity Plan is the Kopu marine servicing facility business case project. This considers the merits of upgrading Kopu to link in with developments within Coromandel Harbour (specifically infrastructure to support commercial aquaculture growth at the Sugarloaf Wharf), as well as complementing a proposal for a new centrally located marina closer to Coromandel Town that would cater for a commuter Ferry from Auckland, 12 charter boats and dry dock boat storage (35 large boats, 180 trailer boats) and marine-side apartments.

The business case will also consider Kopu as a centre to support marine servicing operations across the Hauraki Gulf, as well as being a connector for water-based tourism opportunities – connecting across the Hauraki Gulf as well as through to the Paeroa Wharf”

The Attachments to the Paper include two consultant reports on each of the matters under review by an outfit based in Arrowtown (yes - Arrowtown!) called Rationale Ltd. The first is a 'once over lightly' summary of all the information we already know about the District, and posing the question - why has the District not done better in the overall scheme of things? It is pretty well useless for any purpose other than making an attractive brochure for addition to the RDF application.

The second is a little more 'meatier,' but again raises nothing that we do no already know, let alone answer the obvious question - if a Marine Servicing Facility at Kopu was such a good idea, why has no commercial developer appeared willing to take it on. Again, Rationale can suggest nothing better than another application for RDF funding cover the cost of a new slipway and single berth pontoon costing $300k by December 2019. 

But this is just the beginning of its proposed facilities that are detailed without a single mention from go to whoa of private capital. Kopu Engineering appear to be the major beneficiaries of any RDF largesse - good luck to them, but I fail to see why our money is needed to get them the additional facilities they apparently need, according to the Rationale report. The figures provided by Vaughan Austin  - Kopu's Managing Director would appear to more than justify their investment.

It could be suggested that the previous Government under Bill English completely ignored the needs of the provinces, but this Government seems to be showing a real determination to return to its discredited socialist roots under the almost distracted oversight of Ms Adern, and our benevolent attitude towards 'pork-barrel' hand-outs.

It could be said that in our case, our well paid Council staff have few projects to concentrate on in order to get their share of the Jones hand-outs,' so their determination to apply the 'gloss' to what they are left with at Coromandel and Kopu is understandable, along with the decision to employ one of the well-connected 'consultant' companies that have popped up around the country to take advantage of all the 'lolly' being distributed by councils. It is however remarkable that $200k staff are unable to fulfil this role themselves, and develop their own pro formas just like the 'consultants.' 

The problem is that in giving way to all demands from every quarter in order to maintain electoral advantage, the well eventually runs dry. It  has happened following similar previous electoral cycles, and it appears likely to happen again sooner rater than later as the nurses and teachers, by way of example, reject offer upon offer. They waited nine long years for this opportunity, and they are not giving up until they have the well really dry.

Meanwhile, both Winston and Shane on the one hand, and the Greens on the other are determined to fully mine their MMP advantage. Socialised commercial undertakings in Hokitika and Coromandel are but a mere bagatelle in the overall scheme of things, and can fly under the radar until the whole balance is tipped, and we suddenly become mired in the consequences.

Every known indicator screams for closer examination of all the contrary factors involved with the proposed kingfish farming proposal at Coromandel, but with Government money involved, and local boosters and iwi involved, the development will occur regardless.

Its likely success, and consequential environmental degradation remains entirely moot.




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Reader Comments (1)

You hit the nail on the head there Bill. Been there done that.....these "bright ideas" have been discussed for decades but the bottom line is that if they were truly viable the private sector would have stepped in long ago and reaped any rewards on offer. This is just shifting everyone's hard earned tax dollars around the provinces in an attempt to make it look like economic development is occurring. Sure it would be great if the District gets a slice of the pie but never forget who paid for the pie!

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterInsider

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