October was a relatively quiet month with only 3 meetings, although they were followed by One Plan Work Shops. Staff and Chairs of committees doing their best educate the rest of us. I have to say that they appear to be doing a good job of it. It is my view that most of the rest seem to have fallen in behind, like good little puppies. That is of course with the exception of Gordon Mc Kellar and myself. Now and again one or two of the others have a brief moment of sanity and appear to come over to my side, but unfortunately they seem to disappear again into that green fog that pervades the place.
I have been very active around the table. Pointing out that under schedule one of the RMA we do not have to approve the plan(s). Then the options. Councillor Walker has stated that they are all going along with the chairs and staff at the moment, but if they cannot see how the plans are going to work without significant financial costs to our communities, then they will all fall pretty quickly in behind me. Great. I am not holding my breath.
I have noticed that there is a degree of stress at the top of the table with both the Chair and the CEO looking rather haggard at times and out of the blue comes the Chief Executives review. Buggar me dead it happened so quickly I forgot to fill the questionaire in so got it in late. First year I have missed the time line.
Those of us farming types that read the farming mags that come out weekly will have read all the statements and the goss around the Environment Courts preliminary decision.
September the 18th Rural News front page “Minister steps In.” Straight Furrow September 25th page 2. “Minister looks into councils One Plan.” And in other papers various people adding their tuppence worth. We have the Ohakune growers in the Ruapehu Bulletin, 9th October, demanding that councillors stand up and be counted. And a feds rep in the Farmers Weekly September 24th. “One Plan Result a Travesty.”
Both spokesman for the organisations need to have been asking the hard questions of the organisations who represented them at the hearings . Both organisations should have recognised the illegal nature of the plans. For they focused on making an unlawful document workable rather than focusing on the law and the requirements the law brings to the planning process. So it should have come as no surprise to the parties that it all turned to custard in the environment court.
I also leave my harshest critisim for the District Councils. They allowed the Regional Council to assume their roles and functions. They quite literally shafted their districts . It is my view that the Mayors and CEO’s need to resign. I notice that 3 have gone and one is retiring next election. One of these has gone on to represent us in Parliament, so I have not alot of faith in that representation.
On the 4th of October, David Carter made an informal visit to see council. Only 6 of us turned up. There were more of his support crew than councillors. A very bad look I thought. Councilor Burnell and I did not hang back pointing out that the Hearings panels we sat on were compromised, in that it was a farcical exercise, with the outcome already predetermined.It is my view that when council pays, the council gets what it wants. Otherwise no work. This is most certainly true for Cr Burnell and myself.
Minister Carter certainly made it clear. “Fix it” or else. To most of us councillors present we understood what he mean’t, but unfortunately two do not see it that way, nor the CEO, for they are busy saying so at every opportunity, and organising field visits to a farm complying with the rules. Great stuff. One wonders where they find these guys. Indeed did I read this week where the feds have dug up an organic farmer supposedly farming to the rules as notified and not even he can comply. I recognise that the Minister will step in if Councillors cannot “fix it”. He stated clearly that Govt see’s Agriculture as being far to important to the national economy to allow this plan to derail its quest for economic growth that will be largely driven by the uptake of new technology available to agriculture. To acheive this uptake , Govt needs positive forward thinking farmers, not an industry down in the dumps. I will say that Minister Carter got a hell of a shock when I asked, why was all the attention focused on the dairy industry when Sheep and Beef extensively farmed was also a real problem with potential loss’s to that sector twice that of the dairy industry. He asked why no one was saying so. Well I had. And I travelled to Auckland to present a section 32 costs and benefits analysis to the Local Government and Environment Committee traveling the country in September. As a consequence I see that the Ministers economic assessment now includes extensive sheep and beef in those catchments to be included from 2017. It has been realeased to the public, available from his office and puts the economic losses between 22-43% for those farms captured. My view is somewhere in the order of $270 million per annum.
On the 9th of October we had the Strategy and Policy meeting . The Ohakune Horticulture guys and Federated Farmers attended, speaking against aspects of the One Plan.
Of interest in the agenda is on page 22, I got a small wage increase, and including traveling costs. It is pretty hard running a car on .33 cents per km. I got .70 cents for the first 5000km and then dropped back to .33 cents after that. I have travelled up to 20,000 km in a year on official council bussiness , plus many more on unofficial bussiness. I now get .74 cents and .35 cents respectively for official bussiness. Plus council is now able to pay me to drive to and from Palmerston at $15/ hr. I still lose the first 30km, and if I stay overnite, I lose another 3okm. I and one other are the only 2 councillors in the country to be affected. Sought of tells you something.
Then there was a soft engineering report, where engineering staff are trying to dumb down river protection works, making them more environmentaly acceptable. No guess’s which way I voted.
On the 30th of October we had Regional Council. First up the Taurarua Horticulture Growers spoke to council. They stated clearly that they represented 150 growers across the region, cultivated 2000 hec for a $70 million gross turn over. They operate on slim margins, and many are limited to what can be grown. If there is not big changes to the Plan then we will be eating our veg’s made in China. I do not think most councillors heard them.
We have a new Regulatory Manager. Mr Nick Peete joins us from DoC. Too nice a guy. Does this indicate a change in direction?
Pages 29-33 deals with One Plan stuff. Staff made track changes to the courts decision unbeknown to most of us and as requested by the court, although I was aware of this, there did not appear to be any inclusion of councillors views until I tried to get a speacial meeting to attend to this requirement. Of course it turn out to be rather farcical, with a meeting granted for the 23rd October, which then becoming a workshop on the 30th after the Regional Council meeting which ended up a 2 hour bitch session and councillors approving (except me) the staffs track changes. Had to be in to the court the following day the 31st October.
On page 33 is an item on councils participation in the Local Government Funding Agency (LGFA).This is a national council controlled trading organisation set up to enable local authorities to use their collective bargaining power to borrow money at lower interest rates. It was formed in 2011, has 19 shareholders including the Crown, and has $25 million of paid up capital. It has total borrowings of $832,715,000
Our Council voted to join as a borrower only with a limit of $20 million. No Swaps.
In the Pink pages there is an item on contiguous properties. The Green Rig. Of course I cannot report on these.
There was another meeting during the month, being the environment committee but unfortunately the agenda has been misplaced. My house is full of paper and books and agenda’s.
The Annual Report for 2011-12 is out. Shows a small surplus over the various activities, not all available for debt reduction, of $3.3 million. This is after total income of $51 million and $48 million of operating expenses. There was $8.2 million of capital expenditure bringing the total expenditure up to $56.6 million for the year.
I saw that the greenies are up to their old tricks and the community outcomes to the Well-beings on page xiii- are listed in the wrong order. So of course I voted against adopting the report.
I have some work to do to get these outcomes rewritten and the order changed . The problem is that most coucillors do not recognise how important it is. These well-beings and the order of drive our planners. It reflects the councils priority direction. And with regard to Horizons, quite clearly the Environment comes First Second and third. Read them. Make a submission.
On the 25 th October, I attended Taumarunui Community Kokiri Trust Symposium. Trick or Treaty. A great line up of speakers. Some positive some not so positive.
These included Wally Penetito, Rose Pere, Tariana Turia, Hone Harawira, Margaret Mutu, Moana Jackson and local identity Richard Bately. My wife and I attended the dinner afterwards, a whirl around the dance floor and home.
What I took from it was that despite Hone’s negative portrayal on TV, he is actually quite positive. Heres hoping that he recognises that it will all only happen if our communities are positive and we live in a positive community.
But if you think the current treaty process is full and final , you are deluding your self. Maoridom estimate they have been short changed by $5 billion. That is the amount that the Govt saved the tax payer by making cuts to various ministries to do with regard to Maoridom and their affairs over the last 23yrs. That money should have been made available to the Treaty Settlement Process.
Can the country afford such a bill? Is this why so much land is being mapped. Is private property to be used to settle these futuristic claims. The Waimarino 4B claim and the private and individual Iwi and Hapu claims within seem to point in that direction. Horizons Sustainable Land Use Inititative sit on top of or right next door to these claims. Coincidence. I think not. Why will the Ministry of Justice not release the maps of the same for all the other Iwi authorities claims across the region?