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Council Acts Precisely As Predicted

The vote on Declaration on Climate Change went exactly as predicted in yesterday's post with all East Coast councillors plus Deputy Mayor Tony Brljevich voting in favour of Mayor Goudie's motion, together with a utterly meaningless addition from Rex Simpson as follows:

"Requests staff takes a broad view of the actions undertaken to mitigate the drivers of climate change and scan how other councils are responding to climate management and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions."

Clr Strat Peters made a valiant attempt to isolate the recalcitrant East Coasters with an amended  motion aimed at adopting the Declaration, but he was side-stepped with a negative vote, and the Mayor's motion prevailed during a process that appeared 'ultra viries'. The vote followed extremely conciliatory submissions in Public Forum  by former staff member - Katina Conomos:

"The report before you implies that signing the Declaration may expose the Council to litigation risk.

The report incorrectly draws a connection between the Declaration and the legal advice of Mr Hodder QC who recently provided a paper on litigation risk arising from climate change, which was commissioned by LGNZ.

Mr Hodder has a sharp warning to Local Government – that there is substantial litigation risk to Councils from allowing risky development and failing to implement adaptation measures.  To quote from the LGNZ media release  “councils potentially face significant costs through legal action by not adequately factoring climate risks into their decision-making.” 


"The report notes that the Council is “already committed to working on many of the initiatives within the declaration itself”. That is partly true in respect of adaptation measures and coastal hazard planning but these are actually mandatory requirements of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 and the RMA. These actions have been required by law since 2010. 

As I understand, TCDC has no action plan specifically to reduce its own emissions."

Submissions by Mark Skelding and Rob Plummer followed, together with a repeat of climate change denier Alistair Bickell's well-worn, illustrated anti-Declaration  submission.

Later in the day an extraordinary PR  emerged from the Council in which it was claimed that:

"Today our Council agreed to keep taking action in response to climate change for our communities in Thames-Coromandel."

The PR  gave the impression that equal numbers for and against were there to present their views - a total distortion, with only one contrarian present - Alistair Brickell,  whose well-known views have been self-publicised in the past.

The next distortion was the claim by Mayor Sandra that:

"It was encouraging that most of those presenting to Council agreed that Council's actions spoke louder than words when it comes to the climate change challenge."

Several councillors (Waker and Simpson in particular) set trap questions for presenters by asking them if they agreed that "actions speak louder than words." Such little tricks are common in public forum, and to use it in this manner is misleading and disingenuous.

Mayor Sandra was then quoted as claiming that:

"The declaration has the potential to be a legally binding document, and Council and individual elected members could be at risk if it did not uphold all the initiatives. 

"This declaration doesn’t indemnify us from action or inaction," Mayor Sandra says.

She points to an example where Forest & Bird took the New Plymouth District Council to the Environment Court in 2015, saying it was in breach of its Memorandum of Understanding in a case involving significant natural areas. You can read more about this here.

"The only way we can be protected is if Government imdemnifies us, so we are vulnerable either way," Mayor Sandra says."

This is abject nonsense of course, totally unsupported by legal advice, or is a misinterpretation of the advice provided by Jack Hodder QC to LGNZ, and explained in an earlier post.

How on earth our Mayor considers that she has the legal nouse to arrive at this conclusion totally escapes me, but she appeared very comfortable with her views when she approached the media table  after the vote. (the Waikato Times was present)

The result has not hit the news at this point, but will by this evening when by all reports, TV3, and RNZ in particular will pay particular attention. National contempt and derision will follow as a matter of course, and the backwardness of of East Coast councillors who were 'led by the nose' will come under substantial scrutiny, not that that attention will cause any concern. These people are very thick-skinned, and convinced that their stand is in accordance with the majority of their elderly demographic. They are convinced that they are 'ahead' of the Declaration in carrying out 'real' mitigation works around the Peninsula.

The October Election is really the only way in which to alter the course of events can now be reversed - a fact that was strongly noted by the 70 or so members of the public who attended, and courteously  expressed their disgust after the vote, and later at a post-meeting debrief at the newly re-opened Club, where they discussed their next moves.




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Reader Comments (1)

Thank you Bill for your response to the nonsensical attitude of the Mayor over climate change .. it didn't surprise me given her lack of interest and response to conservation issues over endangered creatures of the Coromandel... I wonder if she has even heard of the Sixth Mass Extinction that we're living through, as well as climate change. Keep up the good work.
PS you might find my latest blog on this subject interesting... !!!

April 3, 2019 | Unregistered Commentervalerie davies

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