I expect better from the Mayor

I am not a dog person. Never have been. But I understand peoples connection with their pets. What I do have in common with dog owners is a concern for animal welfare. For this reason I’ve been watching with some interest the debate about the management of Napier City Council’s pound.

Recent comments by the Mayor should not go unpassed. With respect to concerns raised by Watchdog! he was quoted as saying β€œIf they simply got positive about things then the whole place would be a lot better” and that he treated Watchdog! with “the utter contempt they deserve

The first quote begs the question what was wrong with the way the pound had been managed in the first place. Why else say that the whole place would be a lot better? To my mind the words ‘a lot better’ imply that management of the pound is currently less than perfect. In short the Mayor has acknowledged that Watchdog! has a point.

In his second quote the Mayor shows a complete lack of empathy for the concerns raised by Watchdog! and by association, all of the members of the public who support their work in raising concerns about animal welfare. I’m sorry Mr Mayor but I think you go too far.

It is unfortunate that the Mayor has gone down this path. He is far better than this. But I get the feeling that his continued support of the CEO has put him under some pressure. It is clear that the public have become frustrated with the council and it’s CEO in recent times. The velodrome, Skatezone, a lack of swimming facilities and now the pound are just some of the issues in which the public feel they have been treated with contempt. Is it any wonder that Watchdog! called upon the CEO to resign? It may well be they will be but the first group to make this call.

Submitted 11/01/17

Posted in HB Today, Letters to Editor, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My Magic 8 Ball Predictions for 2017

It seems this is the season where we reflect on the achievements of the past 12 months. To refresh my memory I re-read my comments on how I thought 2015 had gone and my predictions for 2016.

Looking at my magic 8 ball this time last year I had made the comment that β€œare they (the people of Hawke’s Bay) beginning to see what a financial and environmental risk the dam is to all rate payers of Hawke’s Bay, and has the issue of the common right to use water sunk in enough. If these remain the big issues for Hawke’s Bay for 2016 then I predict we will see changing of the guard at HBRC.”

Of course the Dam ended up playing a major part in the HBRC elections. So it should have. It was the first opportunity for the general public to have a definitive say on the project and they definitely made the most of the opportunity. With re-election of the four councillors from Heretanuga and the election of myself and Neil Kirton in Napier the tables have turned.

Having a full review of the dam is an important step. We need to know how much it will cost to exit, how farmers in the Tukituki catchment can comply with Plan Change 6, and just how robust the reports provided to the public by the dams promoters were. It is worth noting that the Deloitte, MacFarlane, and Butcher reports are having independent and far reaching reviews done on them. In many eyes these reports simply could not be trusted.

At this point we should be patient and await the outcome of the review. I am confident that we will all be able to make a robust, fully informed decision about the dam following the completion of the review. Hence my first prediction for 2017. The review will answer a lot of the questions asked by the public of Hawke’s Bay and that in the end the decision we make as a council will be quite simple.

To my mind the issue of water being a commons was reinforced with the Havelock North contamination issue. Whilst the actual cause of the contamination has yet to be determined, rightly or wrongly the public made the connection between the way in which water is being managed and what happened in Havelock North. However until the inquiry releases it’s findings we will remain uncertain about the strength of this connection.

This is not to say that current management practices of our water resources should be ignored. The public outrage at feedlots, and cattle still being in our water ways is very real and cannot be ignored. The same goes with pollution issues with places such as Maungawhio Lagoon, Ahuriri Esturay, Lake Tutira, and Lake Whatuma. To my mind the people of Hawke’s Bay are sick of hearing excuses. They want action over these issues.

And so to my second prediction for 2017. There will be tears. I do not believe that the solutions are merely mechanical such as placing an aerator into Lake Tutira. That’s just a band aid solution. What needs to happen is to stop polluting these jewels in the first place. And that means managing their respective catchments. As you might have guessed this is likely to lead to our farming community having to up their environmental game even further. Hence the tears.

But I remain confident that our farming community can do this. We have enough examples of good farming practice happening already to give us a good base to work off. The way I see it many farmers just struggle with the resources and knowledge needed to lift their environmental, and thereby their commercial game. It’s just a small number who are letting their team down and doing irreparable damage to the reputation of farming in general. It is these few who need to feel the heavy hand of regulation and enforcement. I have an honest belief that with the right support the rest will come on board. And as a community we need to willing offer our support regardless of if we are townies or not. Because unless we get the farmers on board then our environmental problems will never go away.

In a way this is my third prediction for 2017. That there will be a far greater sense among the people of Hawke’s Bay that we are all in this together. Urban and rural. Pakeha and Maori. What happens on farm does effect what happens to our water, but we can’t change farming practices and improve water quality on a regional scale without supporting our farming community to do the right thing by our environment. As a townie I’m prepared to help. I hope that you will be as well. Bring on 2017.

Submitted as a Talking Point 28/12/16

Posted in 2016 HBRC Election, Aquifer, Dam, HB Today, Letters to Editor, Water | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter to editor – RWSS Review

The review of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme is a welcome first step. Many people have approached me saying they do not have enough information to make a decision about the scheme. Fair enough, I understand that. I think it is because there is an underlying sense of mistrust in much of the information that has been provided the scheme. They feel there has been far too much spin.

To my mind there will be three essential criteria that the review needs to meet to start rebuilding trust. Firstly people need to be confident of the independence of the review. It needs to be prepared and presented without fear nor favour. I see it as part of my role as a politician to ensure this happens. Believe you me, if I don’t have confidence in the independence of the review you will hear about it.

Secondly people need to be confident that the scope of the review is broad enough to cover all of the concerns and questions that have been raised about the scheme. Fair enough. But no one knows everything so I’m looking for your help. If you have any concerns or questions about the scheme please feel free to email them to me paul.bailey@hbrc.govt.nz I can collate them and have them included in the scope of the review. And remember the only silly question is the one you don’t ask.

Finally, the review needs to be presented in a way which is understandable for most people, yet comprehensive enough to provide full enough explanations. This will be a fine balancing act. But we have great staff who I firmly believe are capable of meeting this demand. I am looking forward to seeing the results. I hope you are to.

Posted in Dam, HB Today, Letters to Editor | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment