Local govt wants local flexibility

01/11/2019

Local Government New Zealand submission on freshwater is asking the government to back away from a one-size-fits-all approach :

The submission, which was led by regional councils, strongly supports the outcome the Government is looking to achieve, the focus on freshwater ecosystem health, and regulation to manage contaminants.

However, the local government sector, which comprises all district, city, unitary and regional councils in New Zealand, is calling on Government to walk back from the proposed one-size-fits-all regulatory approach, and partner with local government to right-size the freshwater reforms.

One of our biggest concerns with the package is that it oversimplifies the problem with freshwater quality by assuming the issues are severe and urgent everywhere, and so we need regulatory intervention on a national scale,” said Chair of LGNZ Regional Sector Group, Doug Leeder.

“We absolutely acknowledge the challenges facing freshwater bodies, but the data shows that different waterways face different problems. That means we need tailored solutions to restore these ecosystems to a healthy state, not broad-brush regulation.” . . .

Councils must have the flexibility to work on different problems and solutions in different catchments.

The submission is supported by 13 case studies, which extensively examined the impact the proposed package would have on a variety of regions, from Northland to Southland.  These case studies underline that local context is everything when it comes to understanding impacts.

The submission is further supported by an independent economic analysis of the Government’s Regulatory Impact Assessment, and a distributional analysis to assess how the costs will affect different communities across New Zealand.

“One of the key things to get right as we develop freshwater regulation is to ensure we take communities with us, whether they are urban or rural,” said LGNZ President Dave Cull.

They need to have the confidence that the new rules will actually translate into measureable improvements on the ground, not just more red tape and reports that do nothing to deliver on what we all want to see – healthier waterways and greater environmental sustainability.”

The rural community has no confidence in the proposals.

If attendance at consultation is a reliable reflection of interest, urban communities are a lot less engaged in the process.

That’s unfortunate because they too would face huge costs if there are not major changes to what’s been proposed.

Unless the legislation takes a much more reasoned and science-based approach than the proposals, the government will not be able to take communities, rural or urban, with them.

LGNZ’s freshwater Q+A is here.

LGNZ’s submission and supporting material is here.

 


Mayor doesn’t understand democracy

26/04/2019

The Labour Party plans to stand candidates for Dunedin City and the Otago Regional Councils at this year’s election:

. . .Labour representatives in Dunedin did not respond to Otago Daily Times requests for comment about their plans yesterday, but some city councillors expressed concern.

That included Cr Christine Garey, a first-term councillor and potential mayoral candidate, who believed there should be no place for party politics around the council table.

”I don’t believe they belong … I think it muddies the waters hugely.

”It shouldn’t be about party politics at grassroots level,” she said.. ..

Cr Jim O’Malley also opposed the development, saying party affiliations caused politically-aligned councillors to caucus before votes, and Labour’s move could encourage other parties to follow suit. . .

Local body representation is better served without party politics.

That is reinforced by this from Dunedin’s mayor:

Mr Cull said he had also heard ”murmurings” of Labour’s plans, but was not against them.

While such a move could create issues, if councillors were told how to vote by their party, the discipline imposed by a party could also be positive, especially if a party-affiliated councillor got ”completely out of order”.

”Independent candidates, as we know, are not answerable to anybody.”

Cull has had well publicised problems with at least one councillor.

If he thinks he needs party representation to help him with council discipline, he’s admitting to his own leadership failings.

But worse, he’s showing he doesn’t understand democracy.

Councillors should be answerable only to the people they represent, the voters who put them there.

The mayor thinking party membership would help if a councillor got out of order shows party-affiliated representatives would be answerable first to the party not the people.

That’s a compelling argument against party affiliation in local bodies.


Targeting earthquake risk

11/05/2015

Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith announced a targeted approach to building regulations for earthquake safety at the National Party’s Mainland conference yesterday:

“The priority in developing this earthquake strengthening policy for buildings is public safety and minimising future fatalities. We also need to ensure the response is proportionate to the risk, that the costs are minimised and that we retain as much of our built heritage as possible,” Dr Smith says.

The four significant changes to the policy are:

  • Varying the timetable for strengthening relative to earthquake risk
  • Prioritising education and emergency buildings for strengthening
  • Reducing the number of buildings requiring assessment; and
  • Introducing new measures to encourage earlier upgrades.

“The timeframe for identification and assessment of five years and strengthening of 15 years is to be varied relative to seismic risk. The return period for a significant earthquake (MM8) ranges from 120 years in Wellington, to 720 years in Christchurch, to 1700 years in Dunedin, and only once every 7400 years in Auckland. New Zealand is to be categorised into low, medium and high seismic risk zones with timeframes for assessment of five, 10 and 15 years and strengthening of 15, 25 and 35 years,” Dr Smith says.

“Education and emergency buildings will be targeted by requiring that in high and medium seismic risk areas they be identified and strengthened in half the standard time. We are prioritising all education buildings regularly occupied by 20 people or more. We also want to ensure buildings like hospitals can maintain services in the aftermath of a significant earthquake.

“The scope of buildings requiring assessment is to be reduced from an estimated 500,000 to 30,000. We are excluding farm buildings, retaining walls, fences, monuments, wharves, bridges, tunnels and storage tanks. The new methodology for identifying earthquake-prone buildings will ensure the focus is on older buildings like unreinforced masonry that pose the greatest risk.

“Building owners are to be encouraged to upgrade their buildings ahead of the allowable timeframe by establishing a web based public register and requiring notices on such buildings highlighting the level of risk. There will also be a new requirement to strengthen earthquake-prone buildings when doing substantial alterations.”

The Government also confirmed that the earthquake-prone building definition as being less than 34 per cent of the new building standard (NBS), a 10-year extension for listed heritage buildings, and exemptions from strengthening for low risk, low occupancy buildings, would remain in the policy.

“The effect of these policy changes is that buildings like schools, universities and hospitals in high and medium seismic risk areas will have to be upgraded more quickly, but buildings in low risk areas like Auckland and Dunedin more gradually. This more targeted approach reduces the estimated cost from $1360 million to $777 million while retaining the safety gains. The policy will result in an estimated 330 fewer deaths and 360 fewer serious injuries from earthquakes over the next century,” Dr Smith says.

“The select committee is considering the Bill and will be reporting back to Parliament in July with passage later this year. We will also be consulting on the detailed regulations like the assessment methodology, the Earthquake-Prone Buildings Register, the building notice requirements and the definition of substantial alterations.

“There are no easy answers to the seismic risk posed by thousands of older buildings in New Zealand. We cannot completely eliminate the risk to life, nor save every heritage building, nor avoid a bill for hundreds of millions in upgrading. This is the most comprehensive policy of any seismically active country for dealing with older buildings and strikes the right balance between safety, cost, heritage and practicality.”

The Minister’s full speech is here.

The schedule of the revised timetable by location is here.

A map of the new zones is here.

This policy is pragmatic and practical and has been greeted positively.

The Construction Strategy Group says it is realistic:

The targeted risk-based policy adopted by the Government toward strengthening of earthquake-prone buildings appears realistic for the circumstances with which the country is dealing says the Construction Strategy Group (CSG).

Chairman of the CSG, Geoff Hunt, said today that in adopting a measured position reflective of the realities that earthquake risk in New Zealand varies significantly between regions the Government was taking a realistic approach.

“A policy which puts aside more onerous and unreasonable requirements for upgrading commercial structures in low risk regions, and disposes of top level upgrades for little-used farm sheds and such buildings as isolated rural country churches, is practical and sensible,” he says.

“The CSG has long advocated a policy that takes account of risk factors. It is supportive of the intention to set a ‘must upgrade’ base line of 34 percent of today’s new building standard. The new time frames for upgrading earthquake-prone structures are also helpful in bringing cost factors into line with affordability.

“The regional categorisation of regions into low, medium and high risk zones will allow local government to take a realistic policy approach.

“The openness to public scrutiny of a building’s earthquake resistance status is also helpful to public safety. It will also ensure constant pressure on building owners with at risk buildings to have them brought up to speed sooner rather than later.

“Priority focus on upgrading the 30,000 most at risk buildings and on upgrading schools and hospitals is a matter of necessity.”

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the move was positive:

He said strengthening must still go ahead, but he was pleased Dr Smith had listened to the concerns of southern councils which had lobbied him ”intensively” for two years for change.

”To his credit, he’s listened to those concerns and yes, he will [now] adjust according to [earthquake] risk,” Mr Cull said when contacted last night.

Mr Cull said the ”one size fits all” edict had been detrimental to the lower South Island because of the large number of older buildings.

”Basically, it would have been uneconomic to fix [earthquake proof] them and a lot would have had to be demolished,” Mr Cull said.

The first policy proposed for earthquake safety measures took no account of risk.

Owners of historic buildings in low risk areas like Oamaru and Dunedin would have been forced to demolish their buildings because they would not have been able to do meet the proposed standard in the proposed time.

This policy takes a much more balanced approach based on risk.

It doesn’t mean that earthquakes won’t strike low risk areas nor that a quake won’t kill people.

The Minister rightly says We cannot completely eliminate the risk to life, nor save every heritage building, nor avoid a bill for hundreds of millions in upgrading.

This policy balances risk and cost.


Where’s the paper trail?

24/02/2014

The Taxpayers’ Union has found the DCC made payments to a former MP without documentation:

This morning the Taxpayers’ Union went public with material concerning a payment (or payments) totalling $3,400 by the Dunedin City Council to former MP Pete Hogdson with no documentation or contact.

We’re questioning the internal controls at the Council after the uncovering the payment following a recent media report that Mr Hodgson had been recruited by the Council for lobbying. We asked for information about the services being provided by Mr Hodgson under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. Click “continue reading” below to view the Council’s response.

According to the Council, Mr Hodgson’s work consisted of “lobbying and advocating on behalf of the Council” and there is no supporting documentation. 

The Council has told us that:

  • Everything was verbal. The Council could not provide a single report, email, or even letter of engagement.
  • All of the contracts were negotiated verbally.
  • The contracts were negotiated by the Mayor and there is no documentation to explain the deal.

We asked for copies of any work by Mr Hodgson. All we got back was two letters by the mayor on which Mr Hodgson apparently had input. It is not clear what precisely that was. For example, there is no ‘tracked changes” document.

We think Dunedin ratepayers will be alarmed that their Council paid $3,400 apparently without so much as an invoice. Dunedin ratepayers should ask their Mayor:

  • What did Mr Hodgson do? Was this just expensive proof reading?
  • Why was the Mayor negotiating this in the first place?
  • Why verbally?
  • Why is there absolutely no documentation for the arrangement, not even an email?”
  • Is Mr Hodgson friends with the Mayor?
  • Why doesn’t Dunedin Council have the most basic internal controls, requiring amounts to be paid by invoice only?

The Council’s response raises serious questions.  We can’t think of another government agency that would spend $3,400 without being able to provide as much as an invoice. 

Without an explanation from the Council, we are left wondering whether the Auditor-General should get involved.”

You can read the council’s response by clicking on the link above.

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull defends the payment:

Dunedin Dave Cull is defending a “gentleman’s” agreement which saw a former MP paid $3400 for lobbying following a handshake deal.

Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal that former Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson was paid by the council to lobby the Government not to strip core functions of Ag Research Limited from Invermay, near Dunedin.

The council said the main point of contact for the deal with Hodgson was Cull, but could not locate a single email, contract or any other document relating to the agreement. Hodgson had provided “lobbying and advocating” on behalf of council, and that he had “contributed” to a letter to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and a submission written to the board of Ag Research.

“Mr Hodgson did not provide any reports relating to his services,” governance support officer Grace Ockwell said.

Cull, a former TV personality, denied personally hiring Hodgson, but defended the deal. “I could describe it as a gentleman’s way of doing business in the south,” Cull said. He would be uncomfortable if the council always negotiated contracts verbally, but in this instance he was not concerned. . . .

Gentlemen’s agreements in the south, or anywhere else, should not be over the spending of public money without the necessary paperwork to track and explain it.

The sum involved – $3,400 – isn’t large but that’s not the point.

People and organisations who spend other people’s money are duty-bound to do the paper work.


Standing up for Otago

19/01/2014

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull’s campaign to Stand Up Otago has gone quiet with his less than enthusiastic response to the news that Shell plans to drill for oil and gas in the Great South Basin.

But Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher is happy to stand up for jobs.

Anadarko is due to start exploratory deep-sea drilling in the next few weeks, and Mr Kircher said yesterday’s meeting had provided a chance to ensure that safeguards were taken to protect the environment, as well as a chance to ensure the district was well placed to take advantage of any opportunities that could arise.

”The potential is absolutely enormous for our region. Oil and gas has transformed the Taranaki region, bringing prosperity, jobs and opportunities for the whole area. Test results indicate that the area being tested off Otago may have much greater reserves than Taranaki.

”I was elected on the basis of growing our economy in the Waitaki district and I see this as a major possible game-changer for us all.

”Even if the production is based in Dunedin, the flow-on effects for our district will be significant.”

He said he would always be willing to listen to any concerns people might have about oil and gas exploration.

”I represent our district and will do what I can to pass on those concerns and ensure they are dealt with properly.” . . .

Otago won’t be as strong as it should be if Dunedin is weak.

The jobs and economic growth that would flow from Shell basing its exploration in Dunedin would benefit the whole province.

This prospect has its detractors but there’s more than a little hypocrisy in their protests as these letters to the editor in the weekend ODT says:

The front page article (ODT, 13.1.14) regarding the small group of protesters who want to block the offshore drilling by Anadarko gave prominence to an incredibly small proportion of the Dunedin population; as such it did not deserve front page positioning. That said it was interesting to note these people who wish to limit oil exploration were using boats and boards, wetsuits and probably vehicles to get to Port Chalmers, all of which need petroleum products in their manufacture.

This group would carry a greater message if they used wooden canoes, dressed in wool, and used cork as their flotation aid. If this group want alternatives why can’t they come up with bright ideas and interesting conversations, not protests and negativity? R.J. McKenzie.

Oh the irony of the Oil Free Otago rent-a-mob pictured on the front page. Virtually every object and action in your pictures of the so-called protesters is ultimately derived from the use of fossil fuels – including the PVC jackets, neoprene wetsuits, plastic kayaks, the paint on the banners to the smart phones and computers used to organise the mob. It even appears as though the majority of protesters travelled to Port Chalmers from Dunedin in private motor cars and one wonders how much fossil fuel was burnt in travelling to Dunedin by participants in the Oil Free Future Summit. When will these people learn that in every single moment of every day everybody uses something that is either drilled or mined and that include the alternative future technologies so beloved of the rent-a-mob. The alternative is the Stone-Age. Peter Dymock.

Anti-tobacco lobbyists who smoked would have no credibility, anti-progress protesters who use the fuels against which the rail and provide no alternatives for sustainable growth are little better.

Waitaki’s mayor understands the importance of economic growth in the region and is standing up for Otago, I’m not sure Dunedin’s does and is.


The people are speaking

11/01/2014

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull and some of his councillors are less than enthusiastic about the prospect of Shell drilling for oil and gas in the Great South Basin.

But yesterday’s ODT (print edition) had three letters under the heading ‘silent majority’ needs to stand up for Otago.

Stand up Otago. An empty slogan or a real call for action? The Otago Daily times (8.1.14) headlined with the dreadful news of major cutbacks at Macraes. As with all big business job losses the impact will be felt far beyond those directly affected. These jobs are skilled and well paid, making them even harder to replace in a region where wages have been driven down relentlessly in a crowded marketplace. . .

There is hope for a reversal of our sad fortune, particularly in the field of engineering. Peter McIntyre’s call for support of Dunedin’s push to service the gas industry in its exploration of southern waters should be a rallying call for our future.

Dunedin’s famous silent majority needs to lose its inhibitions and start shouting really loudly to drown out the lunatic fringe whose drums are already beating. Gareth Hughes is up and running with his beak in our business, babbling on with the usual scaremongering that is the trademark of his breed. Dave Cull needs to get off the fence and start thinking about real jobs for real people. Tim Shadbolt will be more than happy to champion Invercargill’s virtues as a base for drilling.

Dunedin still has the skills and equipment to support this enterprise. Should we lose out this time, we will have neither in the future.

Stand up Otago. The revolution starts now!Richard O’Mahony.

Wake Up Dunedin. You should be doing all you can to attract the drilling by Shell off the coast to be based in Dunedin. I visited Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1980 and it was a dull, old grey-stone city. When I visited again in the 1990s it was a bustling, bright city. Why? Because oil had been found in the North Sea and Aberdeen was the onshore base.

Our city could be rejuvenated if something similar was found off our coast. Come on Dunedin mayor and councillors, do everything in tyour powers to encourage use by shell and co of our city and have what could be a bright, vigorous future. Invercargill will take a welcoming attitude. Alexa Craig.

It is great news to hear that Shell has announced, along with its partners OMV and Mitsui E&P, it will go ahead with a $200 million test well for natural gas in the Great South Basin. the well will be located 150 KM offshore from Dunedin in 1350m of water, making Dunedin the ideal base.

Should a discover be made and the gas fields fully developed, then within five years, the potential employment opportunities and benefits for local business would be huge. The Berl report estimates the potential benefits will be: 256 jobs, $179 million spent regionally and $71 million generated per year in GDP for the local community over 45 years. In the first few years of development, there would be an excess of 1000 jobs created and $1 billion spent.

Dunedin and the Otago region need to roll out the red carpet to support the supply hub to be based in Dunedin. We are fortunate that we already have many of the required support businesses based in our city. Now we need the entire community to support this new industry. – Cr Andrew Whiley.

The ODT itself opines:

. . . What we cannot afford as a community is for one sector to stand against the chance of experiencing a possible huge economic boom. To convince Shell to establish here, and possibly keep Macraes operating longer, the whole community and its representatives must be united as one. Let us not allow this opportunity to pass by.

Shell has a choice about where it will base its on-shore support.

No-one doubts that Invercargill will put out the welcome mat.

Mayor Cull must get over his personal antipathy to the development and show the sort of enthusiasm these correspondents are if Dunedin and Otago are to have an even chance of being chosen.


Oil and gas ‘unethical like tobacco’?

10/01/2014

Yesterday’s ODT quoted a Dunedin City Councillor’s view on the news Shell will be drilling in the Deep South Basin:

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the city would not spend money to try to attract the ”unethical” tobacco industry, and should avoid the oil and gas industry for the same reasons.

”It’s an unethical business and I wouldn’t like to see Dunedin setting out to attract it.”

Even for someone with very strong concerns about climate change this is an extreme view.

I am sure she doesn’t smoke but like all of us she uses and benefits from products of the oil and gas industry – and exploration could bring significantly more to the city and province.

Today’s paper reports Dunedin and Otago could reap billions from a game changing gas boom.

The first taste of petroleum money could be just weeks away in Dunedin, as Texas-based oil giant Anadarko prepares to move its state-of-the-art drilling ship into Otago waters, it has been confirmed.

A natural gas boom worth billions of dollars to the regional economy could follow in the ship’s wake, with thousands of jobs potentially created across Otago, it has been suggested.

As arguments for and against the industry’s arrival in Dunedin continue, a report by economic analyst Berl has outlined the possible regional benefits of an oil or gas strike anywhere in the South Island.

It calculated a large offshore gas field could be worth $8.1 billion to the economy of any region hosting the industry, and $3.1 billion in regional GDP, while creating 11,540 jobs.

The report was prepared in March 2012 for the Ministry of Economic Development, but had not previously been seen by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.

He told the ODT yesterday the report did not allay public concern about fossil fuels and climate change, but the economic benefits – if applied to Dunedin or Otago – would be ”more than significant”.

”It could be a game-changer in terms of the economy.”. . .

The DCC has been lamenting job losses in the city and calling on government to help.

Now there’s an opportunity for significant inwards investment and job creation and the mayor and some of his councillors are still reluctant to grasp it.


Bad and good

09/01/2014

Yesterday’s ODT led with the bad news of job losses at Macraes mine.

That’s followed up by today’s story of more job losses in firms which service and supply the mine.

Yesterday’s paper also had the good news story of Shell’s decision to drill in the Great South Basin.

This is how life goes. Good things happen during bad times and bad things happen during better times.

But the outlook for those people who have lost jobs or business because of Oceana Gold’s slow-down at Macraes is better now the economy is improving than it would have been even a year ago.

It would be better still if Dunedin was showing a warmer welcome to Shell.

The city is vying with Invercargill to be Shell’s base and mayor Dave Cull is at best lukewarm:

. . . Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull – who remained personally opposed to the increasingly difficult search for fossil fuels – said he was nevertheless ”cautiously optimistic” the city could benefit from Shell’s plans.

He was encouraged the company was prepared to invest up to $200 million in its search for natural gas, and not oil, off the city’s coast.

However, with the test drill not scheduled until 2016, and any full-scale extraction – if it eventuated – a decade away, he cautioned against too much excitment, too soon.

”What comes out of it, in terms of job creation and business and economic development, will depend on the size of what they find.

”If they are going to be drilling, this is pretty good, and clearly Dunedin is very well placed to offer the services and facilities that they might need,” he said. . .

Two councillors are even less enthusiastic:

. . . including Cr Aaron Hawkins, who said the council had a ”moral obligation” to protect the interests of future generations.

”I don’t think it’s fair to clamour over a few jobs now and leave our grandchildren to pick up the tab environmentally and economically.

”Frankly, I think that’s a very selfish way of looking at economic development.”

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the city would not spend money to try to attract the ”unethical” tobacco industry, and should avoid the oil and gas industry for the same reasons.

”It’s an unethical business and I wouldn’t like to see Dunedin setting out to attract it.” . . .

Contrast this with the reaction from Invercargill.

Yesterday’s Southland Times devoted its whole front page to telling the story – consortium backs $200m basin well –  and followed up with enthusiastic welcome for drill plan.

Today’s story is headlined drilling holds promise of job bonanza.

Shell will make its decision on where it’s based on a variety of factors, one of which will be the attitude of the city.

In good times and bad, you have to do what you can to help yourself.

Invercargill is doing that, Dunedin must do better.


Do as we say . . .

13/10/2013

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull has been critical of SOEs and crown entities moving from Dunedin and says the government isn’t doing enough for the city.

But his City Council appears poised to outsource part of its water maintenance work, and 30 of its staff, to Christchurch City Council-owned company City Care.

If this happens the work has to be done in the city and at least some of the workers will live there but the contract isn’t going to a local company.

The council has a duty to get the best deal and the cost will be a major consideration just as it is for the businesses, public and private.

But the the council has criticised them for not buying, or staying, local and says they ought to consider other factors too.

This looks like a glaring example of do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do.


And the mayor is . . .

12/10/2013

Lianne Dalziel has been confirmed as mayor of Christchurch with 70% of the vote.

Long-serving Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has a new job as mayor of Christchurch after securing around 50,000 votes more than her nearest rival.

In what many regarded as a foregone conclusion Dalziel convincingly won Christchurch’s mayoraty race with around 70,000 votes, preliminary results show.

Her closest rival, Christchurch businessman Paul Lonsdale, got around 22,000 votes. . .

Early results show that Auckland mayor Len Brown will be returned.

. . . A spokesman from Auckland Council confirmed the “progress result” had counted 148,944 votes in favour of Mr Brown.

His closest competitor, John Palino, had earned 98,930 votes. . . .

I will update this post as results come in and welcome your updates in the comments.

UPDATE:

Former Northland  MP John Carter has won the Far North mayoralty from Wayne Brown.

Mr Carter resigned as New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands in July to return to his home in the Far North and contest the mayoralty.

Defeated mayor Wayne Brown, who has served two terms, said he had phoned Mr Carter to offer his congratulations. He said he was sure the former MP would do his best for the Far North – and he is only a phone call away if the new mayor wants any support. . .

Former councillor Sheryl Mai is the new Whanagrai mayor.

. . . Ms Mai won 4897 votes in the preliminary count, more than 1100 ahead of her nearest rival, councillor Greg Martin. . .

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker has won a second term, beating her nearest rival, Ewan Wilson, by 2770 votes.

Napier has a new mayor – Bill Dalton who gained  more than double the votes of this nearest rival, Roy Sye.

Rachel Reese has made history by becoming Nelson’s first woman mayor, taking the mayoralty by almost 1500 votes from Aldo Miccio.

3pm:

Gary Kircher has won the Waitaki District mayoralty. His biggest rival Jim Hopkins also stood for the council and topped the poll in the Oamaru ward.

Tim Shadbolt has been returned as mayor of Invercargill.

With six terms as mayor, and two previous terms in control at Waitemata City, Shadbolt is the longest-serving mayor in office in the country.. . .

Farmer Mike Havill is the new mayor of the Westland district.

Richard Kempthorne has been returned for a third term as Tasman District Mayor.

Brendan Duffy has won the mayoral race in Horowhenua.

Ross Paterson is Mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty again.

Radio NZ reports:

Matamata-Piako District new mayor is Jan Barnes.

Mayor of South Waikato District Neil Sinclair has been returned to office.

Max Baxter is the new Mayor of Otorohanga District.

Brian Hanna is back as mayor of Waitomo District Council.

Jim Mylchreest replaces Alan Livingston who retired after many years as mayor of Waipa District Council.

Mayor of Hauraki District John Tregidga has been returned for a fourth term.

In Rotorua, former MP Steve Chadwick will take over from three-term mayor Kevin Winters with more than 98 percent of votes counted.

Queenstown Lakes District incumbent Vanessa van Uden has been re-elected as mayor, beating hopeful Al Angus, of Glenorchy, by more than 4500 votes.

Central Otago mayor Tony Lepper has been re-elected.

It was a two-horse race for Central Otago’s mayoralty, and preliminary results show Mr Lepper garnered 4416 votes, while Lynley Claridge drew 2521.

The Southland Times has full results for the province including the news that Gary Tong is the new mayor of the Southland District Council.
Sitting mayor Tracy Hicks was elected unopposed in Gore and Bryan Cadogan was re-elected mayor of Clutha.
Timaru District has a new mayor – Damon Odey.
Claire Barlow has won a second term as mayor of Mackenzie District.
Andrew Judd is the new mayor of New Plymouth after beating incumbent Harry Duynhoven.
South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop and Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke both retained their chains with comfortable majorities.
Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman has been re-elected for a fourth term.
In the Bay of Plenty:

Tauranga’s Stuart Crosby looks set to return as mayor.

Ross Paterson is mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty again.

Mark Boyle has received 3672 votes while Don Thwaites got 2275.

Tony Bonne has been elected mayor of the Whakatane district.

Opotiki voted in John Forbes as mayor of the district council.

Don Cameron is Ruapehu District’s new mayor.

Dave Cull has been returned as mayor of Dunedin.

TV3 has a list of mayors elected from north to south.

Those not already accounted for above are:

GISBORNE: Meng Foon

HASTINGS: Lawrence Yule

WHANGANUI:: Annette Main
MASTERTON: Lyn Patterson (new)
UPPER HUTT: Wayne Guppy
HUTT CITY: Ray Wallace

GREY: Tony Kokshoorn (unopposed)

 


Dunedin mayor not standing up for jobs

03/10/2013

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull has been one of the leaders behind the Stand Up Otago campaign.

It was sparked by AgResearch’s proposal to shift most of its scientists from Invermay Research Centre.

Cull has said that the Christchurch rebuild is coming at the cost of tool little to other regions and the government should be doing more to protect and create jobs in other areas.

It’s all very easy to look to central government, but local government has at least as important a role to play in making a city and province attractive to businesses.

It also needs to be open to a range of opportunities, one of those is oil exploration and Cull opposes that.

. . . Mr Cull told the Otago Daily Times he was against continuing the hunt for fossil fuels – including off Dunedin’s coast – when the world was already heating up.

That was because of the threat of climate change globally, and also the risk of an environmental catastrophe locally, he said. . .

Unless he’s doing everything he can as an individual and mayor to reduce reliance on fossil fuels this is nothing more than NIMBYism.

Taranaki illustrates the economic and social benefits to be gained from oil extraction which have come without causing any problems to the province’s environment. There’s potential for similarly positive spin-offs for Dunedin’s and wider Otago.

It’s no good asking the government to stand up for the province when the mayor will turn his back on an opportunity that could boost business in the way mineral exploration and extraction could.

 

 


Rural round-up

20/09/2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints Chair-Elect:

Northland farmer and Northern North Island Director for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, James Parsons was appointed Chair-Elect for Beef + Lamb New Zealand at the organisation’s board meeting today.

The position of Chair–Elect has been made to allow an orderly transition of leadership for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following the announcement from current Chairman, Mike Petersen that he will not seek re-election when his term ends in March 2014.

“This appointment is a very important part of the governance process,” Petersen said.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand puts strong emphasis on the development of all directors, and there has been a real focus on growing the leadership ability of the board for the benefit of the wider sector. . .

Wattie’s Starts Precision – Planting This Season’s Beetroot:

– Day One of 20 weeks of planting

– Resurgence of consumer interest in beetroot

Wattie’s has started precision-planting this season’s beetroot crop, and will continue over the next 20 weeks until a total of 350 hectares have been planted.

The first seed has been planted in the Paki Paki area of Hawke’s Bay for what will be a 20,000 tonne crop, Wattie’s second biggest annual crop behind tomatoes.

Harvesting of the first baby beets is scheduled for the second week in December. . .

Irrigators urged to check for lightning strike damage:

IrrigationNZ says farmers should exercise caution when starting irrigation systems – even if storm damage isn’t obvious – as lightening strike has emerged as a secondary cause of problems following last week’s storm.

“Just because your centre pivot didn’t blow over in the wind doesn’t mean your system is ok. We are now hearing reports of irrigation control systems fried by lightning strike, especially along the Canterbury foothills. Farmers need to check their infrastructure carefully before the season begins. Don’t start your irrigator before you’ve undertaken the appropriate safety checks,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Irrigation system pre-season checks will be even more important this year as parts and labour will be in short supply due to the storm. Irrigators can not afford for their irrigator to break down due to negligence as it will result in downtime. Basic checks like ensuring the pivot tracks are free from obstructions, tyre pressures are correct and so forth are a no-brainer,” says Mr Curtis. . .

Invermay Delegation Meeting Minister of Economic Development:

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is leading a delegation to meet with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to discuss alternatives to the proposed downsizing of Invermay in Wellington at 5pm today.

The group includes Environment Southland chair Ali Timms, former Dunedin MPs Katherine Rich and Pete Hodgson, Otago Regional Council chair Stephen Woodhead and its CEO Peter Bodeker.

Dave Cull says any reduction in roles at Invermay will have a serious economic and strategic impact.

“From Dunedin’s perspective, there is potential for smart businesses and jobs to come out of there. From a regional point of view, the expertise at Invermay is crucial to ensure the continuation of leading environmental research related to farming and other industries which contribute significantly to the Otago and Southland economies. We believe the proposal would also have serious economic implications at a national level.” . . .

Double Gold for Rapaura Springs 2013 Sauvignon Blanc:

Rapaura Springs is continuing to strike gold with its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, with a double win at the New Zealand International Wine Show 2013.

The Rapaura Springs 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Rapaura Springs 2013 Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc both won gold medals at the country’s largest wine competition.

Owner Brendan Neylon said Sauvignon Blanc was Marlborough’s flagship wine, and it was imperative that the region worked hard to continue to produce the world’s best. . .

Rockburn Wines Win At the Biggest and Most Prestigious Wine and Spirits Competition In China:

Rockburn Wines has been awarded a prestigious Double Gold medal in the 2013 China Wine and Spirits Awards for their 2009 Rockburn Chardonnay, while the 2011 Pinot Noir took out its own Gold award.

The Central Otago winery has a history of winning gold medals, particularly for its Pinot Noir, and this month alone has also collected a Gold Medal at the Bragato Wines Awards for their 2012 Pinot Noir and a Gold Medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show for their 2012 Tigermoth Riesling. . .

Marisco Vineyards wins NZ Wine Producer of the Year in China:

Marisco Vineyards has been awarded the Trophy for New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year at the China Wine and Spirits Awards. The company’s wines also won four double-gold, six gold and two silver medals in the prestigious annual competition, continuing their golden run in the rapidly growing Chinese wine market.

Chief Winemaker and Proprietor Brent Marris says the trophy and medal haul will consolidate The King’s Series and The Ned’s position as market leading New Zealand wine brands in China.

“The Chinese market is very complex. One of the challenges is that it is culturally a very status driven market so old world wines have tended to dominate. But awards like this endow enormous status on our brands, new world wines generally, and New Zealand wines specifically, and this win will build our brand profile, and help increase distribution and cement our foothold in the Chinese market,” Marris says. . .

Organics: The Future of New Zealand Wine?

Major three-year project aims to see a fifth of all Kiwi vineyards certified organic by 2020.

The oldest winery in the country, Mission Estate, is also one of the most technologically advanced and sustainable. Now, in a move that could have implications for the New Zealand wine industry as a whole, Mission Estate is into its final year of a major study on organic grape-growing – a trial that may potentially see this influential winery make a significant commitment to increasing its organics production.

The Organic Focus Vineyard Project is New Zealand’s first public trial of organic grapes grown side by side with conventional grapes. The pioneering participants are Gibbston Valley in Central Otago, Wither Hills in Marlborough, and Mission Estate in Hawke’s Bay, where the project was piloted during the 2010-11 season. Mission viticulturist Caine Thompson is monitoring 16 hectares of Gimblett Gravels vines, with half being grown in the conventional manner and half under strict organic controls. . .


AgResearch’s purpose is ag research

15/08/2013

Delegates to a southern summit in Dunedin yesterday were united in their call for more investment in Invermay agricultural research centre.

And the message would be delivered in person to government ministers and the AgResearch board by a southern delegation within days, Mayor Dave Cull said yesterday.

His comments followed yesterday’s AgResearch-Invermay summit in Dunedin, which drew more than 50 delegates from organisations across the lower South Island.

The delegates spent much of the day discussing ways to save Invermay and boost the regional economy, before emerging with an action plan that was big on potential but light on detail.

The ”alternative proposition” would be for more investment to expand Invermay, while emphasising the national, as well as regional, economic benefits that would result, he said. . .

AgResearch’s purpose isn’t to provide economic benefits from its location,

It’s purpose is to do agricultural research.

. . . There was also agreement about the threats posed by AgResearch’s plan to shift 85 Invermay jobs to either Lincoln or Palmerston North.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said that included Invermay’s ”vital” research into improving water quality in Southland as land-use patterns continued to intensify.

She told delegates the Southland environment was ”very different” from Canterbury’s, and Invermay’s research needed to occur in southern conditions and be presented ”first-hand” to farmers to change habits.

”That won’t happen in Canterbury. It won’t happen in Massey University. That science needs to happen in Southland.” . . .

This is a valid argument, but AgResearch’s plan is not to close the research centre completely and it is possible that those who remain could still do this work.

Agricultural research can and does result in economic benefits at local, regional and national levels.

But it should be done where it is done best with the best use of limited money.

Whether or not that is at Invermay as it is, as a smaller centre or as a bigger one is debatable.

Morale has been low for years with scientists complaining they spend more time applying for funds than doing science.

That feeling probably isn’t peculiar to Invermay, or agricultural research but it reinforces the importance of making best use of what money AgResearch has.

As for regional development, the southern leaders should be looking inland to Queenstown where the winter games are taking place and will pump millions of dollars into the economy.

Games chief executive Arthur Klap said . . .  ”there is a direct economic flow of somewhere between $3 million to $5 million” and on top of that the games spends around $3 million on organisation such as wages, stages and local bands.

”Fifty percent of our budget is locally spent.”

A key economic benefit of the games, he said, was that they attracted a large number of international athletes and their management, meaning ”it’s new dollars into the country”.

This year the games was investing $1 million in television coverage.

Thirty-eight broadcasters in more than 100 countries would be screening events. . .

Whether or not the delegation will alter the decision to reduce the Invermay workforce, southern leaders need to be looking to a range of opportunities for economic development.

Those in local government must also look at themselves to ensure they are doing all they can to reduce the costs of setting up and growing businesses.


Leading by example

25/05/2013

Dunedin City Council chief executive has turned down a 10% pay rise.

Dunedin City Council chief executive Paul Orders has turned down a $35,000-a-year pay rise, saying the increase cannot be justified when the organisation is in savings mode. . .

The decision came after the council’s performance appraisal committee – headed by Mayor Dave Cull – concluded Mr Orders’ $350,000-a-year salary was 10% below that of others in his role. . .

”Mr Orders has advised he would find it very difficult to reconcile a salary increase with the ongoing push for the DCC to identify economies and do more with less,” Mr Cull said.

Mr Orders was recruited from Wales and, since arriving in Dunedin in September 2011, has delivered savings from within the organisation that helped ease the council’s debt burden and reduce rates pressure.

He has taken a strict line on any budget increases, while pruning $5.6 million from spending – and creating $1.4 million of ”headroom” within the trimmed budget – ahead of council annual plan meetings earlier this year. . .

Local government, in general, has been much slower than central government to understand the necessity for cutting costs.

The DCC chief understands what needs to be done and is leading by example.

 

 

 


Cost higher than risk?

07/03/2013

Proposals for changes to the system for dealing with earthquake-prone buildings have caused consternation among councils.

The proposals set out a consistent national approach to dealing with these buildings.

Essentially the proposals would require all non-residential and multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings to have a seismic capacity assessment done within five years. Owners of buildings identified as earthquake-prone would then have up to 10 years to strengthen or demolish these buildings. . .

That might have looked feasible on a drawing board in Wellington but it’s not regarded as affordable or necessary by provincial councils.

The Government’s proposals to deal with earthquake-prone buildings place too much emphasis on the earthquake risk, at substantial cost, in comparison to other risks (both natural and other) that individuals and local communities face, the Dunedin City Council says. . .

The consultation document contains proposals to improve the earthquake-prone building system, in response to the recommendations of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.

The proposals include substantial changes to local systems that could cost $1.8 billion in the southern South Island, according to an assessment commissioned by local councils.

They include a much greater role for local authorities in assessing buildings and much shorter time frames for either upgrading or demolishing earthquake-prone buildings. . .

The plan has also met with outrage from some civic leaders and landlords.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, Otorohanga Mayor Dale Williams and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, who is also president of Local Government NZ, have spoken out against the proposals, saying provincial towns and rural communities would be financially ruined.

Timaru Mayor Janie Annear has described the proposals as devastating. . . .

Waimate mayor John Coles says if the proposals are implemented his town’s main street could be flattened.

. . . “Already some organisations, such as churches, have chosen to vacate their buildings because of assessments showing the building’s strength is well under the current level,” he said.

“It is my fear that organisations and businesses forced to find alternative buildings because of their own policies may not find suitable accommodation and have to leave town.” . . .

The Waitaki District Council describes the proposals as ‘‘inflexible, unworkable and unaffordable”.

It has been estimated it will cost the council $2.5 million – 2% of total rates it collects – to assess at-risk buildings and the community or building owners $178 million to upgrade them.

Those details will be included in a submission the council will make on the Government’s proposed changes to earthquake prone buildings, a draft of which was outlined to councillors earlier this week.

The submission makes it clear the changes, as proposed, will place a heavy level of compliance and cost on the council and community.

Overall, the council wants to see greater flexibility, rather than a ”one size fits all” approach, with the community able to decide what level of risk is acceptable.

While agreeing improvements can be made in the light of what happened in the Christchurch earthquakes, the council has concerns with many of the proposals and timeframes, which may prove unaffordable for the Waitaki community.

It says too much emphasis is being placed on the earthquake risk, at a substantial cost, in comparison to other risks communities faced.

Ultimately, the solutions must be risk-based, workable and affordable for both New Zealand and local communities. . .

The Christchurch earthquakes have changed the way we regard earthquake risk and the government has to address issues raised by the Royal Commission.

However, risk and cost must be balanced, especially in smaller, less populated areas.

The proposals are only proposals and are open for submissions until tomorrow.


Property rights vs BORA

09/11/2011

Property rights have met BORA in Dunedin’s Octagon and property rights have lost.

Police have refused to enforce the Dunedin City Council’s trespass notice against the protesters in the Octagon:

Police had been considering their legal position for the past week, but Insp Sparrow yesterday concluded the trespass notices did not meet “the test of balancing the rights and freedoms of all parties”.

What about the rights of other people to use the green space being occupied by the protesters?

What about the council’s right to object to rubbish and human waste on public space?

What about the rights of the council to determine what can happen on the land it owns and is responsible for on behalf of the whole community?

Mayor Dave Cull is considering other legal options.

He told the Otago Daily Times he was “disappointed” at the time police had taken to reach their conclusion, and by their decision not to enforce “legitimate” council bylaws.

“We are completely at a loss to know where the lack of enforceability might begin or end.

“It makes one wonder just what the police will enforce in our community and what they won’t. Is it up to them to decide what the law is, or can we rely on our laws and bylaws?

“It leaves us wondering, I guess, whether we can rely on backup for the community’s interests.”

The council isn’t saying the people can’t protest, it’s just saying they can’t protest in this manner in this place.

The ODT opines:

The police’s reluctance to act on the trespass order raises an interesting question. If they take no action against breaches of the reserves and camping control bylaws, might they also hold back on enforcing breaches of other bylaws?

Indeed, which would they uphold and which would they not?

And what would happen if the protest was taking place on private land?

Property rights aren’t absolute. But are they  all, including the right to exclusive use and peaceful enjoyment of your own land, subservient to the Bill of rights?


Quote of the week

08/01/2011

“Just because someone’s completely sober … doesn’t mean they’re going to make the right decisions.”  –  Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.


Money can’t buy me an election

04/12/2010

More proof that the amount you spend on electioneering isn’t directly related to the result:

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull spent more than $13,000 in his campaign to win the mayoral chains – nearly $30,000 less than Peter Chin did in his campaign not to lose them.

Documents Mr Cull filed with Dunedin electoral officer Pam Jordan this week show he spent $13,517 on his successful tilt at the city mayoralty.

It would be difficult to win an election without spending some money but this is one of many cases where the winner spent a lot less than the loser.

Money helps but it can’t buy love from voters. It is only one of many ingredients in successful campaigns and spending more doesn’t guarantee a better result.


Spot the flaw

14/11/2010

Dunedin City Councillor Fliss Butcher is upset she was not appointed chair of the council’s planning and environment committee.

Only the cost of a by-election has stopped Dunedin City Councillor Fliss Butcher resigning from the council she was elected to just over a month ago. She says she has been sidelined and that part of the reason is that she is a woman. . .

There is however, a flaw in that argument – the person who was appointed to chair the committee is Kate Wilson who is also a woman.

. . . Cr Butcher claims being a woman counted against her.

“I see it as a gender issue for me particularly because I’m a feminist and I’m well known to be a feminist. . .

I’m not sure if Kate identifies a feminist. But she’s an intelligent, articulate, energetic woman who appears to have all the skills needed to do the job to which she’s been appointed.

Fliss was offered the position of deputy but turned it down and it’s now held by Teresa Stevenson who is also a woman.

That doesn’t look like sexism on the part of the mayor, Dave Cull, unless it’s tokenism but the abilities of the people concerned should allay any fears about that.


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