Mike “Fat Tony” Williams puts a hit on “Campylobacter” Yule

Prime Minister Bill English was somewhat distracted last week when he answered a parliamentary question about water bottling, strayed into the matter of Havelock North’s poisoned water and inadvertently but truthfully sheeted the responsibility for this disaster explicitly to the Hastings District Council and Mayor Lawrence Yule.

The PM’s reply is worth reading:

“I am not exactly sure what the member means. I mean the situation in Havelock North appears to be – well it is not anything to do with bottled water, although they had to use it when their water was contaminated. It is about local-government performance. It is about local-government performance and overseeing ratepayer-funded assets whose purpose is to deliver clean and healthy water to its local people. The extensive inquiry into that incident was warranted by widespread illness in the area but it is not about charging for water; it is about local-body performance and overseeing their clean-water system.”

One aspect of this calamity is the confusion around the words “blame” and “responsibility”.

These are not the same.

The official inquiry decided not to blame one specific action or organisation, but the responsibility for delivering clean and healthy water was, by law, that of the Hastings District Council and its long-term leader, Mr Yule.

The next day, MP David Parker made the most of Mr English’s misstep and asked Anne Tolley as Minister of Local Government if she agreed with the PM’s statement of the day before.

Minister Tolley could hardly disagree with her leader, and tried to shift the argument from responsibility to the immediate blame for the contamination.

David Parker then went to the heart of the issue and asked:

“Does she agree with the inquiry finding that the district council did not implement the high standard of care required of a public drinking-water supplier, particularly in light of its history of a high number of prior E. coli transgressions?”

Minister Tolley agreed and again tried to involve other parties, despite the fact that blame and responsibility for ignoring these alarming E. coli readings was that of the Hastings District Council.

Mr Parker then asked her if she recalled the Cave Creek tragedy of 1995, in which 14 people died when a DoC viewing platform collapsed in the Paparoa National Park.

In this case the local DoC manager and the Department of Conservation chief executive resigned, as did then Minister of Conservation Denis Marshall.

At this point the Speaker intervened, offering Anne Tolley a way out of the trap that Mr Parker was laying, by advancing the issue of ministerial responsibility, allowing her to state that she, indeed, had no ministerial responsibility.

Mr Parker then got to the heart of the matter, asking:

“Does she believe that the mayor of the district council that infected 5500 of its residents with campylobacter, causing premature deaths, Guillain-Barre paralysis, and terribly painful reactive arthritis, amongst other complications, was responsible for the council he has led for more than 15 years?”

It becomes clear that the Speaker won’t allow this line of argument and Mr Parker is ultimately ejected from the House.

What we are seeing here is the National Party lining up behind its Tukituki candidate, Lawrence Yule, and you’d have to ask yourself two questions.

First, isn’t there a double standard running here?

Todd Barclay, the MP for Clutha-Southland, was pressured by National Party colleagues into announcing his resignation because he taped a former employee who didn’t like him, and the employee spilled the beans.

Mr Yule, repeatedly elected to run an outfit which no lesser person than the Prime Minister tells us has responsibility to provide “clean and healthy water”, didn’t resign and instead decided to run for Parliament.

He then gets support from senior National MPs in Parliament.

National have quite a legacy now of covering up wrong-doings instead of taking responsibility.  It is typical for a 3rd term government as the skeletons start piling up after a while.   The really absurd thing is that even with all that, Labour still don’t look better to the electorate.


– Mike Williams, Hawkes bay Today

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