Dodgy conflict of interest issue for dodgy socialist dam is getting serious

Things are heating up now after a clear conflict of interest was discovered over the dodgy socialist dam at Ruataniwha.

Forest & Bird has made a formal complaint to the Auditor General and requested an investigation after it was revealed that a Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillor stands to benefit financially if the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme goes ahead.

Councillor Deborah Hewitt asked for an exemption so she could continue to participate in discussions and vote on significant decisions relating to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Councillor Hewitt owns property within the area that could benefit from water supplied by the proposed Ruataniwha Dam and the value of this land is expected to increase if the scheme goes ahead.

The irrigation zone in question appears to have been added to the Scheme in October 2015 and was a key reason the projected cost of the scheme spiralled to almost $900 million earlier this year.  

Forest & Bird Environmental Lawyer Sally Gepp says it is difficult to tell when the dam company decided to add an additional Zone N to the irrigation scheme.

“The documents we have seen show that Councillor Hewitt should have known from at least October last year that this Zone would include her property and that as a result she would stand to gain from decisions by the Council to invest public money in the Scheme. She should have declared her interest and stood aside from decision-making from that time” said Sally Gepp.

In addition to its formal complaint, Forest & Bird has urged the Auditor-General not to grant Councillor Hewitt an exemption, saying that the benefits of allowing her to participate in decisions relating to the Scheme do not outweigh the risk that her participation will be regarded as distorting or tainting such decisions.

Ultimately this won’t have much bearing other than making the HBRC look even more dodgy than it already does.

Deborah Hewitt though won’t like it as she likes to be liked and like most councillors around the country isn’t used to push back.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a private prosecution is followed up on this to put even more pressure on her.


– Scoop

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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.