John Key is being a bit of a dick over the Ruataniwha scheme, and is suggesting he will ignore the voters of Hawkes Bay.
Prime Minister John Key said he would be surprised if the government did not help with rising costs should the Ruataniwha Dam project make it through legislative and local government challenges.
The Department of Conservation is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal stopped a land-swap to create the reservoir to irrigate 25,000ha of drought-prone farming and cropping land in Central Hawke’s Bay.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is driving the scheme but an anti-dam majority of councillors recently elected are stalling the project.
Mr Key said the area was a very important food bowl for New Zealand “and every so often there is a drought” costing millions of dollars.
“In terms of jobs and just peace of mind, I think it is important,” he said.
“Obviously there are environmental issues and they need to be considered, but it always struck us that the land swap that they were proposing was quite a sensible way through.”
When asked if the government would help top up the scheme – construction costs were calculated during a construction slump in New Zealand and have risen considerably – he said it was likely.
He said there was a lot of money in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund “and we are not spending it as fast as we want to, because we are having to deal with these sorts of issues with the Ruataniwha”.
“I find it very difficult to believe there wouldn’t be some cash. That is the purpose of having the fund and it is quite big.”