Winning the argument via headlines

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You know you are winning the argument when the Media party uses your turn of phrase in a headline.

Meka Whatiri has called into question some of the claims over the dodgy socialist dam at Ruataniwha.

Kiwis deserve better than “dodgy dam claims”, Labour’s Local Government spokeswoman Meka Whaitiri says.

The MP for Ikaroa-Rwhiti said as an environmental regulator, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s claims that the Ruataniwha dam would bring environmental benefits are not only false but deeply irresponsible.

Last week council chairman Fenton Wilson said he was confident that together, the Plan Change 6 and the Ruataniwha scheme would provide a win-win situation for our region: “Improving the quality and quantity of water in the Tukituki River, giving farmers a secure water source for their farming operations and injecting more money into our local economy.”  

Mr Wilson said the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme was designed to fit within the overarching regulatory framework and complement it in a number of ways including providing ‘flushing flows’ to help remove algae from the river, migrating groundwater takes to stored water, and delivering freshwater into degraded streams.

However, Ms Whaitiri said it was outrageous that promoters of irrigation schemes are allowed to continue running the line that irrigation is beneficial for the environment.

“Freshwater ecologists, who are the experts in this field, repeatedly prove the lie to these statements and yet irrigation promoters are allowed to keep trotting out these false claims.”

Ms Whaitiri said she would expect such talk from those with a vested interest in intensive dairy farming – but for it to come from our region’s environmental regulator was disappointing.

“[The council] claims that the dam’s ‘flushing flows’ will help the environment have been disproved. Research shows that flushing flows don’t work.”

The MP claimed the dams were bad for waterways and their ecosystems.

“The ratepayers and taxpayers – all of us who are expected to stump up millions of dollars for Ruataniwha and other subsidised irrigation schemes – deserve transparent, factual information,” she said.

However, Mr Wilson said the reality was that without the dam the Tukituki catchment would not receive the range of environmental benefits the scheme provides and the local economy would miss out on the major economic boost it needs.

There are no environmental benefits for the dam. Fenton Wilson is dissembling.

The plan for the dam actually increases nutrient overhead on the Tukituki River to such levels that dogs would not be allowed to swim in it. It is already at the nutrient overhead due mainly to the failure of the Waipawa and Waipukurau sewage treatment plants. Adding in dairy on top of that will kill the river, and Fenton Wilson knows this, yet he claims that this is an “environmental benefit”.

The flushing flows won’t work. You’d need a tsunami of water to flow down the river from the dam in summer to be effective in the lower reaches. It simply isn’t going to happen.

If they planned a dam that actually improved the river then there wouldn’t be any opposition, they didn’t and this is why even people like me are opposed tot he dam.


-HB Today


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.