The Dodgy Socialist Dam is dead and only Maggie and Bill think it isn’t

The Dodgy Socialist dam is dead, but strangely Maggie Barry and Bill English are the only ones who think otherwise.

Baybuzz reports the local response:

I asked the Tukituki MP candidates to comment on the decision and the response of the National Government (their extended comments are included at the end).

National’s Lawrence Yule said: “My understanding is the Government may look to change the law around land swaps through a normal Parliamentry process. The Minister has confirmed any change would not be backdated so the Supreme Court decision stands in the Ruataniwha Scheme …The decision provides a catalyst to rethink how water storage projects are developed … The promotion of water storage schemes to support the Ruataniwha and Heretaunga Plains is a high long term priority for myself as a future MP.”

Labour’s Anna Lorck commented: “Any attempt to keep dragging the dam project out further will incite even more division in our region and led to greater public backlash. It’s gone on long enough. The decision of New Zealand’s highest court must be respected. I think most people who were open to the dam, if it stack up economically and environmentally to the conditions set, will accept that this as the end to the project.”

And the Greens’ Chris Perley: “It is vital to uphold the integrity of the conservation estate from piecemeal attacks by commercial interests … The Supreme Court decision ought to be the death knell for the dam. Now we have to start rethinking how we manage our land, away from the 1950s big dam approaches that have done so much damage around the world.”

The Supreme Court’s heavy blow to the Ruataniwha dam reminds us once again how shoddy the entire decision-making process around this project has been over the past six years.

However this legal muck-up is only one of several reasons the project should be taken off life support.

It should be suffocated out of kindness.

Financially, the investor terms as they stand are a rip-off to HB ratepayers. Under the present terms, while the investor would be guaranteed a healthy return from day one if the project proceeded, HBRIC would need to borrow substantial funds (up to $80 million) for up to 22 years in order to pay the Regional Council (i.e., the ratepayers) any return at all. The peer reviewer of this arrangement called it “unorthodox”. What do you call it?

And finally, Hawke’s Bay ratepayers should not be fronting $80 million (and all NZ taxpayers an additional $180 million, given that further amount is to be invested by government entities) to provide a financial benefit primarily to 200 farmers in CHB. Everywhere else in NZ, farmers using the water pay for their irrigation schemes.

It’s time to move on. Hawke’s Bay has too many other pressing needs that have been neglected in the six years the RWSS has soaked up $20 million in cash and uncounted thousands of hours of staff time and focus.

Actual costs to the ratepayers are expected to exceed $25M. That is $25M for nothing in reality. Heads must and should roll.

The first head to roll should be Maggie Barry’s. She told her department to appeal to the Supreme Court, and they lost. It will be interesting to see what the advice of the department was to the Minister and who made the decision to appeal. The Official Information Act should reveal all.



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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.