Greenmail or compensation?

February 16, 2009

When is money paid by the applicant for resouce consent to an individual or body objecting to the consent greenmail and when is it compensation?

The question has come up as the story (three posts back) about Meridian Energy paying DOC has developed.

John Key says the payments would be okay if it was to offset environmental impacts  but not if it’s hush money.

Director-General Al Morrison said a suggestion DOC accepted money in a secret deal to remain quiet over the windfarm proposal is totally inaccurate.

“In this case an agreement was reached which resulted in $175,000 being set aside to improve public access to nearby conservation land and for a series of plant and birdlife issues to be addressed,” Mr Morrison said. . .

. . . “Clauses were specifically entered into the agreements to ensure the details could be publicly released once signed and they have already been fully tabled, including the amount agreed, before the Environment Court,” he said.

Trust Power spokesman Graeme Purches says it  also had an agreement with DOC but:

Mr Purches said some people are calling these deals bribery but that is wrong.

“It’s about working with stake-holders to get a win-win. It’s not about bribery. I think anyone who suggests you can bribe a Government department like DoC has got rocks in their head,” Mr Purches said.

The Resource Management Act allows for payments to be made to mitigate or compensate for adverse effects of any development.

What raised hackles with this example was the suspicion DOC had accepted the payment to remain silent and had done that because of a decision by the previous government to take a whole of government approach in support of the application.

P.S.

Kathryn Ryan had extended interviews and also covered the issue in this morning’s political slot on Nine to Noon;  and Mary Wilson interviewed Al Morrison on Checkpoint.

Alf Grumble  asks, what’s up Doc?


Farmgirl joins blogosphere

February 16, 2009

Agricultural journalist and broadcaster Nadine Porter brings another rural woman’s voice to the blogospehre with Farmgirl.

Nadine is also a director in a mid-Canterbury cropping farm  and will be a regular guest on The Farming Show. Her first contribution was today and you can hear her here.


When should she go?

February 16, 2009

Helen Clark is looking for other jobs, and who can blame her?

When you’ve been Prime Minister you’re not going to get the same job satisfaction when you’re demoted to former leader in Opposition.

So the question isn’t if she’s going but when?

Clark is an electorate MP rather than a list one so she’ll have electorate responsibilities.

But are the people of Mount Albert best served by a woman on her way out of politics who’s eyes and energy are firmly set on another job or a new MP who will be working hard to cement her/his place in the affections of her/his constituents?

Don Brash was criticised for staying on as an MP over the summer break after he’d stood down as National’s leader but a month or two to tie up loose ends is acceptable.

Much longer than that begins to look like seat-warming on the public purse.

Apropos of Mount Albert, list MP Phil Twyford appears to be the likely one to stand as Labour’s candidate in a by-election and Kiwkblog posts on the battle within Labour for the seat.


DOC accepts greenmail payment from Meridian – Updated

February 16, 2009

RadioNZ  National reports that the Department of Conservation accepted $175,000  from Meridian Energy in return for not opposing Meridian Energy’s Project Hayes windfarm in Central Otago.

Morning Report’s news quoted DOC’s Otago Conservator Jeff Connell saying it would have been inappropriate to oppose the project when the previous government supported it.

Excuse me?

A government department took $175,000 from a State Owned Enterprise for not doing something it felt would be inappropriate?

Isn’t accepting a greenmail payment at least as inappropriate especially when it is basing its view on political considerations not environmental ones?

UPDATE: The Morning Report story is now on-line here


The New Zealand Week

February 16, 2009

The New Zealand Week , an on-line review of national and international media, was launched last week.

 

Edited by Paul Corrigan, it summarises stories from New Zealand and overseas media on current events, politics, science and technology, people, business and consumer news, sport, art and literature, film and theatre and travel.

It looks classy, like a quality magazine with a clean, clear layout,  and it’s easy to navigate – you just click on the top corner of each page to get to the next one.

It aims to provide a one-stop catch up on what’s happened in the previous week and I think it succeeds.

Most people would have come across the major news stories already, but not the summary of views on them, and although I think I’m a news junkie it covered several stories which were new to me.

It credits all sources thought doesn’t link to them, however when I wanted to read more on a story I got to the original in a couple of clicks via Google.

My only criticism is that it doesn’t appear to have any archives which meant when I went back to read something I’d only skimmed in last week’s copy it was no longer available.

If you subscribe you’ll get an email every Friday morning with a link to the new edition.

Declaration of potential interest: Late last year I got a phone call asking if I’d be interested in contributing to The New Zealand Week. It was tempting because I liked what it was aiming to do but I didn’t want to commit to a weekly deadline so turned down the offer, however, we’re still discussing the possiblity of an occasional contribution.


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