Mayor 'Flushed Out' On Climate Change (At Last!)
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 10:54AM
Bill Barclay

It seems that Radio NZ's Kate Gudsell is by no means finished with this District. Following her expose on the Richmond Villas debacle yesterday, she has finally 'flushed out' our Mayor on her long suspected climate change-denier position in an excellent interview on this morning's Morning Report. And don't let the refusal to answer Kate's direct and repeated questions on the subject as adequate cover - it is barely more than thin shade for a firmly held belief.

This follows a splendid Public Forum session at Council yesterday when the same group of concerned citizens (about 30) who turned up in December turned up again in Public Forum. They were there on both occasions to request that our Council join with nearly every other council in signing a Declaration on Climate Change that was designed to put pressure on Government to more comprehensively accept its responsibility to work with Councils to deal with the inevitable effects of climate change. To Sandra this is nothing more than a "meaningless political gesture."

And based on yesterday's performance, our entire Council sits stolidly behind rejection of any such gestures, at least for now, and until they can guage any adverse community reaction. While not expressing any views that may 'paint them into a corner' on the issue, it was nevertheless made  perfectly clear that they remain steadfastly 'sceptical.' I believe that its members consider that they represent precisely the views of the majority of the undoubtedly very conservative, and demographically elderly constituency, that votes! In other words, they appear to believe that their best chance of re-election lies in  maintaining this position.

They may well be right, but the irony of only being joined in this position by the bucholic backwater of South Island's West Coast Council appears lost on them. This was abundantly clear during yesterday's meeting when the delegation's submission was accorded  scant attention and even less respect by our Mayor - the matter was not even on the agenda - the December submission was simply ignored, as will apparently this one. The one thing they share with the West Coast councillors is that they are all elderly, white and male (with one exception!).

On the other hand, that remarkably well-informed and impassioned promoter of the contrary view - Alistair Brickell who was also inspired to turn up, was listened to avidly, and apparently uncritically. His colourful graphs and charts were waved during his incoherent presentation, and the questioning from members appeared to reflect their sympathies for his weary, and increasingly isolated position.. I was left in thrall at just what this indicated about the leadership provided by our Council.

Mayor Sandra continues to laud the employment of our new Coastal Engineer - Jan Vanderliet, and 'coastal studies' as the 'be-all and end'all' in this morning's interview as if these  meet all our obligations to combat the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, another presser today announces the expenditure of futher millions of ratepayer dollars on 'stage two' of the Whitianga Town Centre Renewal Project - probably the most 'Canute-like,' and foolhardy venture this Council has ever undertaken.

I trust that repetition of the content of Sandra's interview with Kate Gudsell will continue to be analysed right up until the Election, sufficient to encourage appropriate candidates to oppose Sandra, along with all the other craven crew who claim to represent us, now. 2019 will surely be our last and best chance to effect change for our future.


Update on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 2:33PM by Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Reading between the lines of today's TCDC presser regarding the Climate Change Declaration, one can be forgiven for thinking that Council members have taken fright at the vehemence of the reaction to their  avoidance of action at their 19 February meeting.

"The Thames-Coromandel District Council has not yet made a decision on signing up to the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration.

The declaration commits councils to plans to reduce greenhouse gases, increase resource efficiency, promote public and low-carbon transport and support the use of renewable energy and uptake of electric vehicles.

When the declaration was discussed during a Council workshop this week (February 19),(my underline)  Councillors expressed a desire for clarity on any financial implications of the document and the consequential rates increases it might place on ratepayers. (There is absolutely no financial commitment obligated or implied by the Declaration - categorically confirmed today by Dave Cull - President of the Local Government Association)

Councillors also indicated the importance for leadership and clearer guidance from central government as to what is specifically required of local government when it comes to risk and resilience matters such as climate change.

Our Council continues to be proactive in ensuring our communities are engaged, prepared, protected and safe in the long term.

• In February 2018 Council adopted the Government’s revised climate change guidance, as published in the Ministry for the Environment’s ‘Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance for Local Government’.

• In June 2018 our Council adopted its Coastal Management Strategy, which sets out a range of initiatives we will be taking over the coming years to better manage our coastal assets and understand the risk of coastal inundation and coastal erosion. The 2018-2028 Long Term Plan includes $2.6 million over three years to help us implement this strategy. 

• Our Council’s Proposed District Plan also includes policies that are aimed at protecting the natural features and landscapes of the Coromandel’s coastal environments, and managing the effects of flooding, coastal erosion and tsunami.  You can read more about this here.

• Among other initiatives, we have supported the set-up of the Coromandel Electric Vehicle Scenic Touring Route, which is a network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles at key points around the Coromandel on SH25. Read more here.

Progression of this discussion will likely be scheduled for a Council meeting in April."

Expect a rapid reversal of their position on 2 April. I hope the same group of petitioners turn up to shame the Mayor, and the members into finally acting as they should have done at the outset.

They delegation deserve our admiration and congratulations for their determination. A good outcome should be anticipated.



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