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Wednesday
Jun122019

Attempt To Bury Regional Council Report 

The following Newsroom  story highlights the extraordinary efforttaken to 'bury' a highly critical report on the performance of regional councils by Local Government NZ, releasing the 5 month old report at 9am on budget day.

It is well worth a read as it describes the relative performance of the various councils, including our own which has the highest number of employees relative to population - hardly surprising in view of this region having by far the highest number of cows - the major source of the pollution that is a large, if not the largest  part of regional council activity.

But what is of even greater interest is the varying levels of enforcement undertaken - Southland having by far the highest number of prosecutions, whereas Waikato seems intent on maintaining "relationships" - a fat lot of use when a high percentage of those whom you are supposed to be overseeing are intent upon avoidance of the rules. 

But here lies the rub:

"Council reporting is patchy. Some couldn’t even provide an accurate number of complaints they’d received. Of the 29,290 complaints received, about 25,500, or 87 percent, are responded to – but fewer than 9000 in person."

and:

"That leaves the door open for the possibility that political prioritisation prevents some from doing their job. Or, perhaps, a council’s drive to be business friendly translates into little effort on prosecutions, which can be an important deterrent."

For example:

"Canterbury’s regional council decided to confirm irrigation consents for a major Mackenzie Basin dairy farm, against its own ecological advice. And the chief executive of the Otago Regional Council overturned staff advice to approve a controversial extension to a Queenstown skifield.

Generally, the report points to an abysmal lack of oversight, and inconsistency in the application of RMA rules throughout the country. This gives rise to the need for a total reform of the sector in order to achieve Government objectives - something that appears unlikely to happen in the immediate future  due to inbuilt resistance to change that characterises the attitude of elected representatives at every level of local governent.

 

 

 

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