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Author/Moderator - William (Bill) Barclay 

 

Associate Member NZ Media Council.   

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Tuesday
May282019

Mark SkeldingMakes A Stand At Council

Mark Skelding has an excellent grasp of climate change and has a knack of being able to gently push our reluctant bench of councillors in the right direction, though you would not initially believe it when observing our yor's reluctance at today's meeting - rather like dragging a horse to watrer, but failing in digestion aspect.

Here is Mark's submission in full - published by permission, and in full - it is that good:

CO2 Mitigation Suggestions to TCDC – May 2019

We encourage your council to review the stocktake of emissions reduction activities and give thought to which actions undertaken in other councils could be replicated in your own council and community.

Every small change that your council makes to the way in which it operates will ultimately help to reduce emissions.

Every small change that your council makes to the way in which it operates will ultimately help to reduce emissions. While the changes that your council can make might seem minor in the big scheme of things, if wholesale reductions in emissions are to result, all New Zealanders need to make changes to their behaviour. (LGNZ – September 2018)

A New Zealander is responsible for around twice the emissions of someone in the UK, and about 7 times the amount of someone in India. We need to think in terms of per capita emissions rather than per nation, because its not the national entity that needs a climate, it is each citizen.

1: Adopt and promote a “Net Zero Coromandel” policy of reducing the district's greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2035.

This 15 year project would achieve net-zero locally in advance of the New Zealand Government's target date of 2050. This advancement reflects both the urgency of addressing mitigation issues but also the perceived advantages to be gained by becoming a leader in this endeavour which can be achieved here because of our relatively small popluation, the opportunity for developing new employment that net-zero thinking stmulates, and to build on the area's reputation for thinking “outside the box”. Local businessman Don Snowden is anything but a naive dreadlocked treehugger, but when I was talking to him about solar energy he said: “look, everybody thinks the Coromandel is full of hippies and greeneis – if we can turn this to our advantage, we should”.

Ultimately, this would mean that carbon reduction would become an over-riding focus for TCDC planning decisions. For a Net-zero Coromandel TCDC needs to set an example of leadership-

2: Start with a TCDC climate audit on its own premises, activities, business dealings, and transactions.

This would include:

  • •  reporting on TCDC exposure to climate change impacts both materially and financially, and making steps to mitigate these,
  • •  steering TCDC funds towards sustainable in-District investing, and
  • •  directing the Economic Development Unit to make Net- Zero a priority above mere financial objectives.
  • •  TCDC units would develop, maintain and disseminate projections on how climate change will affect the district's economic activities, and highlight and promote opportunities for initiatives to address climate change issues of resilience, justice and equity.

You don't have to believe in human-driven climate collapse to believe that there's a business case to be made here, especially when initiatives to achieve reduced emissions will, inevitably, attract central funding over the years ahead.

Some immediate areas to address are in regard to energy usage, both by TCDC and in the community. For example:

Replace TCDC petrol fleet with Electric Vehicles 

EVs are proving to be economical to run (equivalent to 30c/litre for petrol) and require much lower maintenance costs.                                                                                                                                                   EECA's January round for Low Emissions vehicles has several $100,000 dollars being spent on buying EVs for fleets – Ryman Healthcare, PPCS Cleaners, and more. Thanks to efforts by local people and community groups (yay John and T3)

Coromandel enjoys being the most EV-ready district in the country with fast chargers right around the Peninsula.

That 30c/litre petrol equivalent references using Grid electricity. However, if you were to install solar on Council property, or to enter an agreement with a local solar project, this figure could further reduced. It would be timely to do this since the 2017 Vivid Report into energy noted that to replace fossil fuel energy in New Zealand – primarily transport – would require 75% more generation over 2015 levels. The Vivid report notes that this need is likely to increase “energy poverty” - so

Save money and demonstrate alternative energy solutions by solarising all council buildings -

Eric has been in touch with staff, and has some specific figures on this.

Furthermore, I am delighted to be able to inform you that the

HAURAKI RESILIENT COMMUNITIES TRUST has been established, with Thames Business Association founding trustee Geoff Furkert as chairman. HRCT is committed to locally owned renewable energy, and is pursuing a vision, much as developed in the Thames Urban Development Strategy, to be providing affordable local energy.

HRCT has approached the Toyota company to take up its offer of using the factory rooftop as a solar bank.Infratec NZ has estimated that the roof is sufficient to generate power for around 200 households, and HRCT will shortly be pursuing a full feasibility study on this.

We note that a T3-TransitionTownThames energy research project, enabled by Wintec and local busniessman Carl Edmonds, showed that Thames housholds spent $5.47m per annum on power in 2016 – keeping this money local will create a multiplier effect – in Taupo in 2006 the total expenditure multiplier for energy was found to be 2.92. If this held true in Thames, they effect on the local economy would be equivalent to a $15.97m injection.

TCDC can support the HRCT initiative by becoming acornerstone customer, and by recommending businesses throughout the Peninsula to take advantage of this project as it comes on-stream.

This would be part of TCDC Promoting Emissions Reduction Targets to all Business Ratepayers, which would include energy and waste.

Develop a zero-emissions strategy for waste -

this involves addressing how food waste is kept from the waste stream. As we will hear shortly.

But its also about how ratepayers' money is spent, and so TCDC can ask Smart to have a plan for Electric rubbish trucks (as used in by EnviroWaste in Hamitlon city).

So, as part of the Net-Zero approach, TCDC will have a policy that actively seeks suppliers with environmental sustainability considerations and gives preference to goods and services that use renewable energy sources, recycled and/or non-toxic materials, reusable goods, local companies, with efficient and equitable practice.

We note that local multiplier effects mean that spending a little more, if required, to engage a local company generates greater local economic acivity. As the Taupo example shows, this can be as much as a 3-fold benefit.

There are a number of other suggestions, and some would cost money, which is why I cut to the chase and say how vital it is to look at the opportiunitirs coming from Promoting the Coromandel as a Go-to Leader in Emissions Reductions – why?

I somewhat shudder to say – Tourism!

Promote the District as the ideal way to meet Eco-tourism objectives.

A report published by the Industry last year indicated that 87% of travellers want their tarvel to sustainable and environmentally friendly. But 48% say that this is difficult or impossible for them to do.    A 2016 study by Sustainable Travel International and Mandala Research revealed that eco-tourists tend to stay longer, spend more, and believe they have a responsibility to respect the destination.

109,000 international visitors during the summer peak (TCDC 2016/17 Peak Population Report (22 December to 9 January). 50% of these made just a day trip. Most international tourists were from Europe. A flight emits around 92kg CO2 per passenger per hour. A 20 hr flight from Europe would be around 2000kg CO2. Over 40 years, a tree will absorb around 1 tonne of CO2, so planting 4 trees per visitor would be sufficient to offset one flight, and have some insurance against tree loss.

Of course, TCDC can't plant 400,000 trees every year until International Air Travel grinds to a halt or is done on electric powered Zeppelins!

However, there are other projects which tourist dollars can contribute to that will mitigate their CO2 footprint. These include replacing petrol and diesel vehicles, as outlined, and, for example, funding insulation retro-fitting programmes, having loan and grant monies to enable households to equip themselves with solar power, waste minimisation projects, to partner approriate groups to develop community EV schemes, training projects, and so on (as developed by Economic Development Unit).

Its a short term proposal, but one that builds on Don Snowden's sage advice.

Raise awareness of the issues, and what can be done – and do your bit!

As the Bank of England said this month:

"We need to work together internationally and domestically, private sector and public sector, to achieve a smooth and orderly transition. The window for that orderly transition is finite and closing. And our work to seize that opportunity could not be more important. Indeed it is not an overstatement to say that the future of our planet depends on it.

(https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/speec h/2019/avoiding-the-storm- climate-change-and-the- financial-system-speech-by-sarah-breeden.pdf)


 


Tuesday
May072019

Natural Life, On Top On Climate Change

As if climate change was not enough for us to cope with, today's release of trhe a devastating UN Report on the earths natural  life.

 "Human society is in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems, the world’s leading scientists have warned, as they announced the results of the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken.

From coral reefs flickering out beneath the oceans to rainforests desiccating into savannahs, nature is being destroyed at a rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10m years, according to the UN global assessment report.

The biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82%, natural ecosystems have lost about half their area and a million species are at risk of extinction – all largely as a result of human actions, said the study, compiled over three years by more than 450 scientists and diplomat".

But what is major interest to this country is the following extract related to dairying:
"Meat and dairy production uses 83% of farmland and accounts for 58% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions but only 18% of food calories

0%
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Meat and dairy account for 83% of farmland
58% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions
57% of water pollution
56% of air pollution
33% of freshwater withdrawals
Provides 35% of protein

Thursday
May022019

The Universal Remedy - Appoint a Consultant 

Suddenly, 'out of left field' TCDC has taken the unremarkable step of appointing an international consultant to provide the remedies needed to deal with climate change effects on our coastal environment. 

And if this apppears a substantial change of directing, just consider for a moment the following statement by our Mayor in the PR reeased today to announce the appointment:

"the appointment is one of the proactive steps our Council is taking in response to the challenge of climate change for our communities.

"The Coastal Management Strategy is something we have been working on for quite some time as part of our focus on ensuring our communities are engaged, prepared, protected and safe in the long-term,"

This is a cheeky segue from her previous position pleading ignorance of the imminent dangers, and the extent of human causes. For that we should all be relieved, and perhaps now we can get on with real planning for the future - the consultant appointed appears on first sight, really well qualified. for the task .

This PR is a remarkable coincidence coming on top of the previous post . I just hope that the terms of reference are fully cognizant of the needs of those communities threatened with inundation, as well as those claiming precedence for erosion protection.  

Evidence to date does not support this presumption.

 

 

Tuesday
Apr302019

Inundation v. Coastal Erosion

This article that appeared in today's Stuff is instructive in regard to the situation faced by our Council, and points up the contrast between inundation, and coastal erosion - the two conditions are often confused, as suggested in my previous post.

"As seas continues to rise, the cost to hold them back is growing. While New Zealand's coastal communities look to shore up their defences against crumbling coastlines, one seaside council is clear where the responsibility for private property lies.

The Kāpiti Coast District Council has set aside more than $16 million for one damaged sea wall and is currently reinforcing another temporary wall, at a cost of $400,000, while it decides on a permanent solution. The Council  is spending $400,000 to shore up a temporary sea wall. Despite the work, the message is simple: the council will not defend private property.

Kāpiti's coastal erosion issues were highlighted last month when plans for a managed retreat inland were announced by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

While the regional council plans its retreat, the Kāpiti Coast Council has set aside $16.8m for the damaged Paekākāriki seawall: a project that was expected to cost $10.9m in 2016 and now won't be completed until 2023. In the meantime, about 9000 tonnes of rocks are being stored at the council's depot to reinforce the temporary wall if needed.

Further along the district's coastline, the $400,000 project to shore up a temporary wall at Raumati Beach  is underway. Built of concrete blocks, the wall cost $200,000 in 2016. Kāpiti Coast Mayor K Gurunathan labelled the district council's work on Raumati Beach as '"the tip of the iceberg". The council is using stones and blocks to firm up a temporary sea wall, built in 2016.

While the council did not defend private properties against erosion, the wastewater reticulation running in front of the 11 beachfront houses had to be protected which meant the properties were also fortified against the waves.

Along its 42 kilometre coastal stretch, Kāpiti had about 1800 properties potentially affected by various levels of coastal erosion issues.

"How long can we mount a defence, how much will it cost and who pays? These are the challenging questions now and especially into the future."

Kāpiti Coast District Council general manager Sean Mallon said the current work would reinforce the block wall "for a good few years" while council explored longer-term options before consent expired in 2025. "This strengthening work is what we need to do right now to ensure our infrastructure is doing what it should and to protect our community."

Insurance Council New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said rising sea levels were a major issue for coastal communities throughout New Zealand and it was good to see Kāpiti working to address the issue. "There's no doubt the sea is rising and that will continue through this century and into the next.

"If you have properties frequently damaged by events, insurers respond by increasing premiums and excesses or, ultimately, not offering insurance cover at all."

Kapiti clearly has a different issue with the danger to substantial infrastructure in the form of water and waste-water facilities. Protection of yjese facilities leads to consequent protection for much private property, and incidentally, a 'hotch-potch' of coastal erosion stuctures and revetments along the beach.

What I fear is developing here is the idea that East Coast, property owners threatened by coastal erosion have a God-given right to Council protection, while the Council eschews responsibility for providing any protection to property within the Gulf threatened with king-tide inundation.

Indeed, our Mayor has categorically stated that the Council has no responsibility to provide further protection for West Coast properties (e.g. Moanataiari, Tararu and Te Puru)  threatened in this manner, while allowing all manner of protection to be planned, and executed on the East Coast.

Naturally, property owners in the former category feel strongly about the apparent discrimination implicit in the favouring of the relatively well-off East Coast property owners in this manner. It is a policy that could easily 'slip under the radar' and become established unless Thames councillors remain constantly vigilent, and  aware of what is happening. 

Paying a generalised rate to cover the cost of the extravagant East Coast waste-water schemes is one thing - paying for their erosion protection is 'adding salt to the wound.'

 

 

Monday
Apr292019

Complacency! - An Illogical Response to Sea-Level Rise 

It is truly remarkable how many residents of Thames in particular have a adopted a sanguine, if not complacent outlook in the face of the facts that have been presented on sea-level rise over recent years. The overpowering response to repeated warnings that have appeared, primarily on Denis Tegg's blog, and here has been one of indifference, or "not in my lifetime." On the other hand, to accept climate change, but deny imminent, and significant sea-level rise is the height of wishful thinking, I would suggest. 

Such a response should, and must be 'put to bed' with the pubication of the findings of Professor Naish (abbreviated), and as highlighted in Denis's latest post:

"Prof Tim Naish is one of New Zealand’s foremost climate scientists.  He and Richard Levy of GNS Science co-lead a $7 million research program called NZSeaRise.  They visited Thames recently to assess sea level rise projections for the township.  Prof Naish confirmed that when land subsidence on the foreshore is added, parts of Thames have a very high local sea level rise rate of 14mm per year.  The NZSeaRise research will, therefore, focus on Thames (and the Hauraki Plains) because of the acute risks these areas face from rising seas.

Prof Naish sent this tweet after his visit to Thames confirming that the relative or local sea level rise rate for parts of the Thames foreshore is around 14 mm a year.  This is made up of approximately 8- 10 mm of land subsidence a year.  These are some of the highest rates of subsidence in New Zealand as measured by survey, GPS and InSar (satellite). The other component is sea level rise of around 4mm per year.

Do the maths – 1 decade at 14mm = 0.14 m, 2 decades = 0.28 m, 3 decades = 0.42m.  This is without projected future sea level rise.

In this interview in the Otago Daily Times Prof Naish confirmed that around 20 – 30 cm of future sea level rise is built into the system by about 2060, regardless of efforts made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

He also points out there are large uncertainties as to how fast the polar ice sheets will melt.  Some ice sheet models suggest that the potential contribution of polar ice sheets may have been underestimated by as much as 80 cm in the current IPCC report. 

Even with a modest sea level rise added to the very high rate of subsidence on the Thames/Plains foreshore, we are looking down the barrel of half a metre of local sea level rise within just a few decades.

Both Thames and the Hauraki Plains are very similar to Dunedin, (which is another focus of the NZSeaRise study) because sea level rise will likely accelerate groundwater inundation and flooding from overtopping of walls.  There is, therefore, the real threat that surface flooding in Thames township due to seawater intrusion into groundwater beneath sea walls and overtopping of sea walls will occur in short order and ever more frequently on high/spring tides.  Thames already has “sunny day flooding” in some streets, and scores of houses and businesses were flooded from the sea on Jan 5 2018.

As Tim Naish says in his tweet — what are the adaptation options for Thames?  With an annual 14mm of relative sea level rise already happening in some parts of the Thames foreshore and much more global sea level rise to come, there are some tough decisions to make. 

This an emergency.  We need to treat it as such.   For a start, the Mayor and District Council must stop pretending that they lead the way on climate change when they are dragging the chain.  They must end the farce of refusing to say whether humans cause climate change as a smokescreen for outright climate science denial. They need to be honest with the people of Thames about the multiple hazard threats the town faces.  And they must urgently commit more resources in tandem with NZSeaRise and the Regional Council into research and adaptation options."

Our Mayor and council simply cannot be allowed to get away with their 'denial' smokescreen, and utterly ridiculous cliams of "Leading the way on climate change!" Using cycle tracks, and charging stations as the evidence of their assiduous attention to the matter.  Who on earth do they think they are kidding?

For the Mayor to also claim that the employment of an engineer/scientist to devise coastal defences in response to inundation threats as an asequate response is bordering on irresponsible when we recall the manner in which her Council needed to be cajoled into providing $2.5m for strengthening coastal defences during the deliberations of the Long Trerm Plan.In any case, he appears to have fallen into the Mayoral dictate to ignore the West Coast tidal inundation in favour of dealing with the East Coast need for erosion prevention.

It points to just how blind our antediluvian bench of councillors are in recognising the scale of the problem facing this town and district as a whole - thankfully, excluding our Thames members. 

But we can't stand back and simply blame people who appear totally 'out of their depth' on this subject. First and foremost, it is up to responsible rate-payers to recognise the scale and urgency of response demanded, and ensure that people more attuned to the scale of the potential disaster are elected in their place in the October elections.

If such people cannot be persuaded to stand and mount a strong campaign, we are fated to suffer another three years of denial, and inaction. Repeated, and incrementally greater incidents of the nature of that experienced on 5 January 2018 may be needed to really provide the 'wake-up' call.

Who is prepared to take up the challenge?

 

 


Monday
Apr222019

'Informer' Fails To Inform

Stephen Bosman in his 17 April Informer editorial asks the rather pathetic question "Was it the right decision?

One has to appreciate, I guess, the enormmous pressure he is under from advertisers and his essentially right wind conservative demographic to conform to the outlandish view that nothing about climatre change is "proven, " and hence the need to tread carefully. But is does little for his reputation beyond Mercury Bay.

The article is one of those "On the one hand ..........., but on the other," pieces of journalistic contortion that fails to take a stand on a perfectly simple proposition. The fact that five councillors, including his two from Mercury Bay chose to back the Mayor opposing the Climate Change Declaration is no reason for failure to concurrently explain in no uncertain terms the future that we are all facing, regardless of the empty claim that "actions speak louder than words."

These are nothing more than mealy-mouthed distortions of what is actually a total failure of our Council to deal with the reality that faces our coast in particular. Bike paths, and electric cars - what bollocks, and a complete abrogation of responsibility that we have grown to expect from our Council. 

Look in the same edition for the excellent letter from from Denis Tegg that unfavourably compares the performance of our Council against that of others around the country.  Compare this with Bosnan's attempt to back up the 'nit-picking' response of our Council to any criticism of their actions, and the copious quotes from those favouring the mayor's motion. 

Once upon a time we could expect leadership from newspaper editors on matters of great substance, and this certainly falls into that category. Yes, as Stephen paraphrases Denis in the letter heading - "We must do better than this." And so should you Stephen - not simply suggest that potential candidaes "start thinking about the answer!"'

 

 

 

Sunday
Apr142019

Dissatisfaction at Clinic!

The content of the front page story by Libby Wilson in the 12 April Hauraki Herald  on the intentions of medical practitioners to split' from the Hauraki Primary Health Organisation led by Hugh Kininmonth comes as no surprise.

The well intentioned move to place the PHO between the DHB and the clinics as a separate bureaucratic layer is a classical example of unnecessary excess, and Libby Wilson has done well to break through the silence that distinguishes everything within our health services.  Libby is very careful with her words, but it is clear that the apparent imbalance between Iwi, and private health providers is likely the root cause of the problem, with consequent perceived inequitable allocation of funding. It would be interesting to know just who elects the Boards of the PHOs - or are they simply appointed by the DHBs. 

The absolute anomaly here in Thames of Te Korowai (Hugh Kininmonth's previous employer) taking over part of the Thames Hospital adjacent to the outpatients department to run an additional and  completely separate fully subsidised clinic just 200 metres from the Thames Health Centre where all patients pay $38 to see a doctor, and $20 to see a nurse practitioner highlights what appears as unexplained discrimination being promoted within the health sector to the disadvantage of  all private clinics, and their patients. 

I sought an explanation under the OIA from the DHB at the time of the announcement of its intentions regarding Thames Hospital in January. Here is the content of my enquiry to the acting chief executive - David Nicholson:

 "Further to my letter dated 9 September, and your very full response dated 4 October, I would very much appreciate it if you could provide additional information in relation to the article that appeared on page 8 of the Hauraki Herald dated 4 January. (https://www.neighbourly.co.nz/e-edition/hauraki-herald/34882)

In particular can I please be provided with a copy of the WDHB documents referred to by Te Korowai chief executive Rianna Manuel - apparently discussed at a Health Board meeting in December.

Further, can you please provide comparative information regarding the numbers of patients registered with Te Korawai, and the other Thames primary health care providers.

I seek this information principally in order to establish some basis for comparison between the patient load of Te Korawai, and that of Thames Medical Centre in particular.

This would appear relevant related to the claimed Te Korawai staffing of five GPs, four nurse practitioners, twelve registered nurses in clinics, and an unstated number of community based contract nurses.

With the current Te Korawai services providing “very low cost access” and “bursting at the seams,” it does raise a question surrounding the fairness and equity of consultations provided at normal cost  ($38) to people of equivalent socio-economic status to those serviced by Te Korawai from premises just 100 meters distant.

I would be grateful for any comment that you may be prepared to make in regard to this situation – plans for which appear well advanced.

I appreciate your attention to this matter."

I have yet to receive a reply to this enquiry, or even an acknowledgement.

It may not totally explain the dissatisfaction that is apparently leading to the withdrawal of of GPs from the Hauraki Primary Care Organisation, but it certainly would not have contributed to a harmonious relationship with the clinics, of which Thames is by far the largest, affected by the relentless expansion of Te Korowai's activities.

It certainly will not improve the relationship with patients receiving identical fee-paid services through their clinics, and points to a new and quietly growing inequity disguised by the clearly ill-managed rush to reverse a historic imbalance in health statistics.

 

 

 

Thursday
Apr042019

The Thames On Kirkwood

Last evening marked the openng of one of the most impressive additions to the Thames landscape in years, in the form of Adrian Catran's new reception centre on the corner of Kirkwood Street where DoC used to have their offices.

Adrian has spent a packet creating a facility that can entertain several hundred people at a time for all manner of function - primarily of the 'after-match' variety where in the past it has been necessary to move next door to the Salvation Army, or to St James up the street in far less salubrious surroundings.

The new premises have the most up-to-date commercial kitchen and licensed bar facilities to meet all requirements, and in addition (for more joyful occasions), sound and light facilities that are of the highest standard, and the equivalent of anything available in main centres. Already, bookings are coming in from out of town, and many more are expected that will result in drawing a great deal of business to the town.

Last evening was a splendid occasion involving a 'Bugsy Malone' theme, and the Thames Hoi-Polloi  rose to the occasion with much colourful thirties style fashion evident - heaven only knows where all this stuff comes from - I even spotted a white snow-fox stole that must have cost an 'arm and a leg' at some point in time.

Congratulations to Adrian and his dedicated staff for putting on a first rate show including cabaret numbers, and for the confidence Adrian has again shown in the town. Mayor Sandra said it all in carrying out the official opening when she said that Adrian had always had the best interests of the Peninsula, and Thames in particular "front and centre."

With the dedication of the crematorium later this year, his investment should be complete, and this town will have funeral facilities 'second to none'!

 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr032019

Declaration Now 'On Hold' (Like the Mangrove Bill!)

In spite of national criticism of her extraordinary, contradictory and convoluted stance on the matter, our Mayor had the audacity during the course of an interview last evening with Karyn Hay on RNZ, to claim that she would simply not respond to the:

"politically driven criticism and bullying generated by social media."

She refused to name or detail from whence this derived, but hinted darkly that it was of a malevolent nature. Mind you, she did say that she had never read it herself , because "I don't play those games."

I guess she must have been referring to Denis Tegg and myself - he later got a mention. I don't know of any other 'social media' taking any interest in her pronouncements. But  to describe our criticism in these terms, and possibly as 'trollish' in nature, is drawing a 'long bow,' but I guess since she has not read it, we have little to fear should she seek to define it as 'hate speech,' and worthy of the attention of the censor.

In case Sandra really does believe that we are the opposition, she should perhaps read between the lines of this Waikato Times editorial from 20 March.

Frankly, I think the argument is now one that can only be settled at the ballot box, and those who oppose the Mayor and councillors who backed her yesterday, need to get their heads around just who they are going to support as viable challengers of those who have the advantage of incumbency.

I noted at the 'after-match function' at The Club that Jeanette Fitzsimmons 'held court' at one end of the table in a manner that led me to think what an excellent alternative she would make to Sandra, were she able to be persuaded to again 'throw her hat in the ring.' This after all is a really solid cause that could ignite opposition in the same manner by which she managed to eliminate Murray McLean from  Parliament on the mining issue all those years ago.

Jeanette may be a really attractive candidate in the circumstances, and throw a spanner in Sandra's works, but alternatively, the really impressive Katina Conomos whose knowledge of local government, and courage in stepping forward yesterday to express her concerns, possibly sacrificing future consultancy income, would be a real catch, and introduce youth and long absent intelligence and integrity to the job.

Katina probably won't thank me for mentioning her name,  but by golly, she would bring a new magnetism to the task that would make her an extremely attractive candidate with a total absence of baggage.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Apr022019

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.” 

and:

"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.

 

 

 

Monday
Apr012019

Mayor Right On Spot Tomorrow Morning

This morning's radio interview on RNZ by Kate Gudesrll puts Mayor Sandra right on the spot in regard to the motion she has proposed for tomorrow's Council meeting that in effect rejects signing of the Local Government New Zealand Climate Change Declaration.

Listen, and understand to the utter frustration expressed so eloquently by young Thames High School students Helena Mayer and Lillian Balfour, who along with others attempted to speak with the Mayor last week on the issue, but who was "too busy." 

It is time the Eastern cabal on the Council, who have blindly supported the Mayor to date took another look at where they stand - are they to remain in this indefensible position gathering further scorn and derision, or they prepared to 'take her on,' and 'take her out' on this issue? We will know tomorrow.

 

 

 

Sunday
Mar312019

Time to Reflect!

I have avoided any comment, or involvement with the events of Friday 15 March. What else is there really to say – so many commentators clearly consider that they have something to add that makes sense whereas I have nothing to add that makes any sense.

But I can’t escape that easily, having already made reference to the 'underbelly' of right-wing racist groups and individuals who have quietly enjoyed succor and even association within our midst. These people are but a symptom of what is a deep-seated and hidden  malady. When it was obvious, we have often ignored, or walked around it, and diminished its importance, or even poisonous effect.

Now we are faced with a painful analysis on both a national basis that will inevitably bring about a confrontation between authority, and those who will defend their gun rights to the last, and within our own personal sphere – a challenge that may be even more painful.

It behooves everyone – particularly those who seek to record events and opinions to just hold-horses, and reflect on the immediate, and long-term effects of free-form musings, no matter however well intentioned.

I was reminded of this this week when I read another Pattrick Smellie Stuff article drawing attention to “Facebook’s Intolerable Insult To New Zealand After Mosque Shootings.” It is not so much the apparent willful refusal of Facebook, (and others) to accept responsibility, that no-one can deny, but his opportunistic shot across the bows of the Anti-1080 movement as part of the pro-gun lobby .

It is not as if those of us who are determinedly pro-1080 have any desire to see the no doubt well-intentioned contrary views promoted, but to deliberately conflate them with what occurred on 15 March is self-defeating, and wrong. 1080, fluoride, mangroves – they are all issues that inspire passion, and are worthy of reasoned debate – not vilification, and the kind of ‘guilt by association’ that Pattrick Smellie has indulged in while attempting to corral all the groups that he suggests now warrant surveillance.

Here is the quote from his article:

"Yet even as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was making her first comments on gun reform last Saturday morning, people travelling to the Womad music festival in New Plymouth were confronted by a bridge in the city festooned not only with anti-1080 signs, but also with placards carrying web addresses for the alt-right QAnon movement.

This is the far-right rumour mill that peddles a claim that Hillary Clinton was part of a global paedophile ring, that philanthropist George Soros, who is Jewish, is part of a plot with Barack Obama to stage a coup against United States President Donald Trump, and that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is a CIA plant.

In QAnon’s world, special counsel Robert Mueller is secretly investigating all this on Trump’s behalf. The Rothschilds are in on it too, according to this common-or-garden variety anti-Semitic nincompoopery.

QAnon, which has had no presence in New Zealand but has traction as a pro-Trump vehicle in the US, dismisses attacks such as last Friday’s as “false-flag” incidents organised by the Clinton/Soros/Obama cabal."

For this experienced journalist to draw these conclusions from a “reported” sighting of the signs is irresponsible, and unprofessional. Without photographic evidence proving their existence, and their supposed linkage, the report is meaningless, and his conclusions likewise. The story should have been spiked by any responsible editor.

I don’t carry any brief for what I have referred to in the past as anti-1080 ‘nutters,’ and In particular, I regard their Nelson lawyer – Sue Grey’s promoting of their dubious claims in social media live streams as a legitimate means to liberate thousands of multiplied posts as deplorable, and dangerous. (RNZ Morning Report interview) But that does not warrant the blanket of suspicion being thrown by Pattrick Smellie in this article, and elsewhere over the entire movement that has many committed followers with honestly held, and utterly non-violent beliefs.  

Everyone just needs to ‘cool it,’ and approach the forthcoming Royal Commission with an element of common sense, and justice if the beating heart of this democracy is to be preserved. .

 

 

Friday
Mar292019

Climate Change Declaration  

Despite earlier predictions of imminent change, our Mayor continues to stubbornly resist any attempt to have our Council sign the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration.

Mayor Sandra sticks to her guns despite all the criticism that has been levelled on the matter that is fully explained in a paper that that she will present to Council on Tuesday 2 April.

Here is the content of the proposed Declaration, now signed by nearly 60 councils:

“We have come together, as a group of Mayors and Chairs representing local government from across New Zealand to:

  1.  acknowledge the importance and urgent need to address climate change for the benefit of current and future generations;
  2.  give our support to the New Zealand Government for developing and implementing, in collaboration with councils, communities and businesses, an ambitious transition plan toward a low carbon and resilient New Zealand;
  3.  encourage Government to be more ambitious with climate change mitigation measures;
  4.  outline key commitments our councils will take in responding to the opportunities and risks posed by climate change; and                                                                                                                           5. recommend important guiding principles for responding to climate change.”

Here is the response of our Mayor in coming to her recommendation that Council not sign the Declaration.

"In my view the Declaration is a potentially binding document as it commits the Council to developing and implementing ‘ambitious plan’. The term ‘commit’ means ‘to pledge to a cause or a course of action’. Council’s reputation, and that of individual elected members, is at risk if we do not uphold all the initiatives promoted by future governments. Without a legal opinion there is no way to prove there is no commitment and obtaining a legal opinion is an unnecessary expense in this instance given we are clearly working in accord with the objective of the declaration. A paper by Jack Hodder QC presented at the recent Rural and Provincial Sector meeting in Wellington noted that there has been many climate change litigation cases around the world and recent New Zealand negligent cases (asbestosis and kiwifruit pollen (still underway)) give credence to the possibility of legal challenge.

The initiatives described in the declaration and Local Government have not yet been canvassed and therefore have unknown financial consequences. In fulfilling our fiduciary responsibilities the Council has to follow the decision-making provisions of the Local Government Act 2002. These provisions include:

  • Identifying all reasonably practicable options;
  • Assessing the advantages and disadvantages of different options;
  • Taking into account Maori culture and traditions if it is a significant decision regarding land and water
  • Considering the appropriate level of engagement with our communities based on significance of each decision."

The actual recommendation is couched in the following manner:

That the Council:

  1. Receives the ‘Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration’ report, dated 19 March 2019.
  2. Continues to take action, following robust decision-making processes, in response to climate change for our communities.

Disappointing, but anyone who knows our Mayor, and the manner in which she operates will hardly be surprised. The highlighted use of the word commit - one that appears nowhere in the document, and one which LGNZ Chair Steve Cull denies, together with the references to the LGA are indeed an irrelevant ‘red-herring’ when seen in the light of the negating of any commitment.  

It remains up to Council to either accept, or amend the recommendation on Tuesday in order to adopt the Declaration. At this point, I can see only three West Coast members supporting such a reversal, and I suspect that Mayor Sandra has already clalled a Workshop in order to canvass, and tie down the East Coast support. The motion is right at the end of the Order Paper, to ensure minimal local public presence.

Our Council will likely continue to be derided for its backward and ignorant stance on a critically important issue.

 

Monday
Mar182019

Climate Change Litigation Risk

In the last few days, Local Government NZ released and distributed an opinion prepared by Jack Hodder QC at their request, to all mayors, members and staff, that describes the level of risk being incurred by councils to similar litigation as recently instigated elsewhere in the World,

It is hardly surprising that Mr Hodder's opinion warns of far greater risk than has possibly been appreciated at council level here - a risk that our Council would do well to take into account when deciding whether to follow our Mayor's lead, and her demonstrated scepticism as to its existence, and likely effects.

It may well be required at some point in the future to prove that it has taken all reasonable steps to deal with what is now established science, and despite our Mayor's stated inability to understand it, to implement appropriate counter measures, and in particular, restrictions on developments and protection of existing infrastructure.

What should concern us in particular is the following key conclusion: (Note - I do not have an URL link - only a PDL which I can forward if you require.)

"Current local government litigation risk mostly relates to decisions to limit development (short-term judicial review).  In the future it seems likely to extend to the consequences of allowing development and failing to implement adaptation measures. "

Here is greater detail from the Opinion that is immediately relevant to our situation right here in Thames-Coromandel :

"1.1 Local government is required to plan and act to meet the current and future needs of local, district and regional communities. This in turn requires prudent stewardship of resources and good quality risk management.

1.2 Those objectives have always been challenging. But now the challenges have been compounded by the strengthening of the consensus on the imminent impacts from significant climate change reflecting human activities.

1.3 This short report assumes the correctness of that consensus, and addresses the legal dimension of those compounded risks for local authorities. It seeks to explain that the combination of, first, climate change concerns, and, second, common law systems such as ours, has already created serious litigation risks for governmental agencies, including local government – ie, risks of damages awards.

and

7.5 The strengthening consensus on anthropogenic climate change and its adverse consequences indicates issues which in some cases will materialise only over decades. And there are many interests in play: owners and users of private assets; those undertaking local use changes and developments; insurers; publicly owned assets; central government and taxpayers; local government and ratepayers.

7.6 If major climate litigation, involving large monetary claims, does occur in future years, it will involve an ad hoc inquiry into fault and apportionment of responsibility for any one or more of thousands of exercises of statutory powers, or alleged failures to exercise such powers.

7.7 This will almost inevitably feature the distortions of hindsight:
In the way in which litigation proceeds, the conduct of the parties is seen through the prism of hindsight. A foreseeable risk has eventuated, and harm has resulted. The particular risk becomes the focus of attention. But at the time of the allegedly tortious conduct, there may have been no reason to single it out from a number of adverse contingencies, or to attach to it the significance it later assumed.
The obvious unpredictability of this adds further complexity to the nature of climate litigation risk.

7.8 In the face of such risks, with impact on most and perhaps all parts of any country, the idea of national standards and solutions seems obvious. In New Zealand, appropriate legislation also seems obvious. We have a long history of public welfare legislation backed by taxpayer funding, and our legislation does trump the common law (including by enacting immunities or limitation defences against litigation risks).

7,9 I will not venture into details of the shape of “appropriate” legislation. But I suggest that some refined and expanded version of the EQC system justifies serious investigation. At a conceptual level, that would involve expansion of the range of “natural hazards” covered by a protective legislative scheme. And the ultimate backstop would be the Crown and its general taxation powers.

7.10 The political and economic ramifications and difficulty of handling the risks which climate litigation would bring – and reflect – may also deserve the label “super wicked”. But it seems to me that doing nothing requires a surprising level of bravery.

JE Hodder QC

7 March 2019"

 

 

 

Monday
Mar182019

Australian Exported Terrorism, Is Us!

Having returned to New Zealand after twenty five years working for the Australian Government in various roles, we were often questioned  as to why, when everyone at the time appeared to moving in the other direction? I think many of our friends will recall that our answer was quite simple - the ingrained and pervasive racism that permeated every aspect of Australian life - a casual, accepted, inherited and defended racism that transcended guilt, made our decision relatively simple.

We decided to leave it behind, and return to a country where the same or similar existed in a far more diluted, if barely tolerable  form. Hence our lack of real surprise when we heard of the origins of the main perpetrator on Friday - Grafton on the Northern NSW coast is one the epicentres of the attitudes that are so well explained in this article, by Chris Graham on his website - Newmatilda.com,

For additional comment by Waleed Ali - a prominent Australian journalist on their Project program, go to this Facebook page. It is as frightening as it is disturbing,, and bears out my heading to this post.

Graham is a former Walkley journalism award winner - the top Australian awards in this field. It is seldom that I have seen such self-awareness displayed in this particular area by any Australian journalist - most appear in denial, or incapable of admitting that Australian attitudes are in any way unusual - Trump has inspired complacency, by comparison.  How often have we heard? :

"It is all very well for you Kiwis to claim the morl  high ground - you don't have boats heading your way, or the abject historical Aboriginal condition to deal with."

My eight year fight during the nineties and beyond, right to Cabinet level, for adequate Federal government resources to deal with Aboriginal health conditions in the Northern Territory, left me exhausted, and despondent. I was fobbed off at every level by the sickening and patronising futility - "Don't waste your time, or ours, son!" that had prevailed for the 100 years since Federation, with first prime minister Barton's declaration that only white Europeans qualified as Australians. I won't expand on the words he actually used to describe the others! Don't imagine that much has changed.

Every other aspect of Friday's events has been reported at length elsewhere, and my reference to the above article is the only contribution I intend to make. But anyone who thinks that the philosophies, that drove Tarrant, albeit less obvious, are absent here should think again. Anyone who is in denial as to whether they have heard similar sentiments casually expressed here to many of those in parts of his manifesto, and as graphically described in Graham's article, are kidding themselves.

Kia kaha!

 

 

Friday
Mar082019

'Climate Change' - Agree, or Disagree? - that is the Question

It is interesting that the writers who put the Stuff article together yesterday on  the reaction of councils throughout the country to the 'Climate Declaration'  found difficulty in establishing whether it is the prerogative of the Mayor, or the councils to make that decision. 

Our Mayor Sandra has taken it on herself to state that she has no intention of signing it, and one can only presume that she has the support of her Council in taking that position - or has she? Rex Simpson appears to have deserted the fold, and will no doubt vote in favour of signing the Declaration on 2 April. I am sure that he will be joined at least by Sally Christie, and Strat Peters. Based on the performance on 19 February, that will be it, and the East Coast group appears likely to bloc vote with the Mayor.

Our Council will join the following (see StuffI article) in taking this position, :

Manawatu District,

Hamilton,

Hurunui,

Waitaki,

West Coast Regional Council, and

Westland.

Not marvellous company I would have thought - quite the contrary. Several other mayors equivocated when put on the spot - none of those actually opted out as above.

It is really disturbing when people elected to these positions claim 'ignorance,' "lack of scientific knowledge," and other specious excuses for failing to sign a perfectly simple declaration designed to show unity amongst local government in regard to accepting that climate change  is a fact of life, and seeking greater central government input into co-ordinating reaction to the problem on a country-wide basis.

That is basically all that was involved, but the range of embarrassed foot-tapping, and side-stepping to avoid taking a firm position beggars belief. That we, being one the most seriously affected districts, certainly amongst the 'No' group, are being led in this manner, is both disgraceful, and dangerous.

 

 

 

Friday
Feb222019

Why Was The TCDC Resource Consent Granted?

Denis Tegg's splendid review  of the situation surrounding the Richmond Villas Resource Consent, published today was 'book-ended with some very serious comments that are worth repeating here:

"How Come TCDC has Granted a Resource Consent for the Apartments? 

If TCDC has concluded that the land is subject to coastal flooding how come it recently granted a resource consent for the new 72 unit three-story apartment complex on the site?  The answer – which I will cover in more detail in a subsequent article is that TCDC –

  • indulged in abysmal decision-making by disregarding the threat of coastal flooding,
  • ignored high-level planning instruments such as the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement,
  • misinterpreted the Resource Management Act and
  • did not insist on up-to-date coastal hazard assessments –

All of which went unchallenged because the resource consent was considered without public notification."

Why, you may well ask?

I believe that there may well have been political pressure applied to push both this and the Whitianga Waterwsays applications through before the new Ministry for the Environment guidelines were officially required to be applied. I believe that percieved economic benefits, rather than any nefarious, or corrupt   motive may have informed this action.

There is simply no other reason why such significant developments could have been dealt with in this manner. The dates when our Council was provided with the 'draft' guidelines (April 2017), and when the consents were granted (July 2017), prove conclusively this to be the case. To claim that the impending guidelines did not need to be applied until 'formal' notification (November 2017) and adoption by Council (February 2018)  is spurious, and disingenuous in the extreme. 

In view of the potential liability now incurred by our Council, regardless of its claim of immunity, it is this aspect of its operation that is worthy of investigation by the Auditor General. It simply cannot be allowed to continue to resist imposed climate change parameters in this manner, and at our risk.     

 

 

Thursday
Feb212019

Council Workshops - 'A Blight On Democracy'

Readers will note that I have highlighted an interesting sentence in the 'Follow-On' to previous post.

It relates to the fact that our Council decided to 'Workshop' a discussion about the Climate Change Declaration after the closure of the 19 February meeting.

It is now 'par for the course' to adopt this device to hide any discussion that may become contentious ior embarrassing. It is used now to a far greater extent than any previous Council, though Leach was rather partial to its use - he did after all have a great deal to hide.

It is a device that is deplored by the Local Government Commission, and represents a total abrogation of the democratic right of every ratepayer to know what is going on behind the closed doors of our Council. I make a point of sitting through meetings until the "Public Excluded section when agendered items must fall within the defined limits of the Local Government Meetings Act, and generally do.

But workshops are another matter, and are entirely at the discretion of the Mayor. They are supposed to be used only for the purpose of allowing staff to expand on matters more fully that would be convenient in a formal meeting - not for hiding dissent simply for the sake of creating the impression that all is 'sweetness and light' on our Council.

Rate-payers are entitled to know the actual position of each of their councillors or every subject on which our Council is required to make make decisions. It is why I attend - to report on debate, not decisions that have already been made elsewhere which is the case as things stand. If they think that 'batting heads' is best behind closed doors, they are sadly mistaken, and in breach of the rules and conventions. It incidentally gives a totally false impression of the manner in which our Mayor performs in debate.

They may think it best to hide away in this manner, but the Climate Change Declaration is the perfect example of an issue that should have been discussed in Tuesday in open forum - April is too late, and gives the impression that they are simply reacting to adverse public reaction.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Feb202019

Mayor 'Flushed Out' On Climate Change (At Last!)

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.

 

Tuesday
Feb192019

A Remarkable Turnaround By Council

The remarkable action by the District Council to place a inundation warning on the title of the Richmond Villas title in December as revealed in today's RNZ News is mind-boggling to say the least.

The fact that village owner Colin Parker claims that the letter notifying this change was not received is almost beyond belief. Notwithstanding, he was well aware, as we all were of the danger of proceeding when the consent was issued in late 2017 when the Government had made it perfectly clear that revised guidelines were 'on the way'  that would almost certainly obviate any chance of approval being granted by Council.

What is disturbing is that it appears clear that Council rushed through several applications in October 2017, including the one from Whitianga Waterways,  in what appeared at the time to be a deliberate attempt to avoid having to apply the anticipated changes to the guidelines. This disgraceful state of affairs appears likely to now come under close examination - hopefully by the Auditor General.

Mr Parker's building at Richmond Village appears to be on an expedited construction curve over the last few months with an August completion by all reports. It seems likely that all his buyers will need to be given the opportunity to withdraw in the light of this late breaking information. The potentially inevitable result will be extremely expensive litigation against the Council - a prospect to which I have drawn attention on several occasions in the past - just do a search to see those posts.

This is a developing story, and I will update it as further information becomes available.

 

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