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  • Andrew von Dadelszen

WHAT ARE MY GOALS FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS?

Having been re-elected unopposed has made for an easy ride this time around. That said, we do represent our community, and need to be wise guardians of our substantial community assets (Our 100% CCO – Quayside Holdings – owns around $2.6 billion in assets alone). Bay of Plenty Regional Council has an incredibly strong balance sheet, and while this is great – it also has allowed for a “flabby” organisation to develop.


A BIT OF HISTORY

To put that financial strength into perspective – in 1989, with the restructuring of the local government sector, our regional council acquired $42m in the assets of the Port of Tauranga (75% of the total port assets at that time). When it was subsequently floated, Waikato Regional Council sold off their 25% - and subsequently lost most of that in a poor Australian investment). Tauranga City Council acquired local electricity shares (which they subsequently sold for $46m).

Today, our City has no investments, and our regional council has grown that $42 million to over $2.6 billion. Our city councillors has never seemed to be very good at asset management, and yet here are some who think that they should take over our bus operations. What a joke!


LOOKING FORWARD

I have always stood on a platform of “Action – not Words”, and that has always been (and will continue to be) my mantra. I believe in a science-based approach to environmental decision-making, and want to see our regional council staff also following this mantra. Alarmist rhetoric (like Climate Crisis) is damaging to our community (you only have to look at a increasing suicide rate of our youth) and has no place in local government. When asked about our regional action plan for climate change, the best that our CEO could give us was to make our council lunches vegetarian. Another joke – except that she wasn’t joking.


Consenting & Compliance

We have to become business friendly, because it is only with a strong economy that we can afford to pay for genuine environmental sustainability. Our consenting and compliance team has to have a huge culture shift – and stop being so “risk averse” that we grind our economy to a halt.

I want to see regional councillors taking back much more of our hearing consent process. We are the ones elected by our community, and we are the ones who have a better understanding of our community needs. The current dispute over our local fishing rights is an example of our community loosing control.

Central Government needs to play its part in reforming the RMA, but regional council staff also need to step up when it comes to consenting for land development. We have to work with our whole community to ensure faster/better outcomes.


Transport

I previously chaired both Public Transport and the Regional Transport Committee, and both our these areas of operations has been most unsatisfactory over the past six years. We have to do better, and this will require better leadership.

I identified that our proposed Bus Blueprint was flawed when I was re-elected to council in 2016, and yet our transport planners sat in their ivory towers, and wouldn’t listen. After a lot of heartache, we are moving forward now, but it still is a long way from perfect. My mistake these past three years was to sit back and accept that the “looney left” are running the henhouse. This term I won’t hold back – unless there is serious improvement, you will find me much more outspoken.

With regards to Regional Land Transport – I have not been at all happy with the standard of leadership from this committee. We need strong chairing, to ensure that Tauranga City gets its fair share of influence. The problem is that our TCC Mayor only has the same voting power on this committee as the Mayor of Kawerau or Opotiki. Yes, we want consensus

whenever possible, but not at the expense of the majority of our ratepayers.

In the past six years the Mayors of Tauranga and Western Bay were rarely seen attending these meetings - depowering the significance of this important regional committee. We have to change this, and it will take strong leadership to do so.


Environmental Sustainability

Again, this is about “the doey, and less of the hui”. We need to be spending our resources on the likes of actual wetland restoration, such as we are seeing in the Lower Kaituna catchment. That might require land use change, but we shouldn’t be advocating for a “one stop fits all” policy setting that our Environment Minister seems to want.

I am proud to chair the Rotary Centennial Trust for the Restoration of the Kopurererua Valley. This trust has raised over $1 million over the past ten years, to help restore this 300 hectare wetland. This is exactly the sort of initiative that our regional council should, and now is, supporting strongly. “Actions – not just words”.


Fresh water

Maori still believe that they own our water. This is opposed by myself, the National Party, Act, NZ First & Labour. This is an absolute bottom line for me, and we do need to settle this once and for all. That won’t be an easy conversation, when you consider the history of the Treaty Settlement process. But it has to be addressed.

That said, our Regional Council needs to ensure we have robust data (water flows) to ensure robust water allocation decision-making. To date, regional council is making unsafe decisions, because a lot of the data is only “desktop modelling”. This is a huge political football, and the first to blink will loose. NZ Inc just can’t afford that we “blink”.


Staff

Our cost structure has ballooned in the last 6 years. We need to restructure staff – moving them into action orientated positions, with much more emphasis on the “doey rather that the hui”. If we are serious about climate change, then we need to stop the nonsense of having half of our senior management team (and their support staff) split between Whakatane and Tauranga. We have to stop the wastage. We need measurable outcomes.

BOPRC spends an inordinate amount of staff time on policies and planning, and don't get me wrong - we do need to do this thoroughly. However, we also need to get "out into the trenches" and do the actual environmental remediation to ensure that NZ remains the best "clean/green" country on this planet. Sitting at your office desk, doing desktop modelling, just doesn't do it for me.

1 Comment


gfly
Nov 05, 2019

Nice as it is, is NZ the best green/clean country on the planet??

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