On Tuesday, about 125 people showed up to be briefed and comment upon the Government’s proposals for new freshwater policy and somewhat overlapping Resource Management Act changes.
While I would quarrel with calling many of these changes ‘reforms’, which is the Government’s preferred sales speak, the briefings were effectively delivered by Ministry for the Environment reps.
Over two hours plus, the format permitted ample questioning and commenting from the audience, which revealed considerable discontent with the Regional Council’s consultation practices and — based on that experience — skepticism about the Government’s plans to write into law a “collaborative” decision-making process.
T’was a pity that notably missing from the meeting and discussion were any representatives from the Regional Council, with the sole exception of Councillor Remmerswaal. Obviously she didn’t receive the Council’s ‘Do Not Attend’ memo!
Following this briefing a second two-hour meeting was held. This one provided the opportunity for focused interaction on the same issues between the MfE reps and Maori hapu and marae leaders assembled by Ngati Kahungunu (NKII). The session demonstrated that NKII has been working hard on its water policy stance.
Absent also from this meeting, HBRC received negative reviews (although the Government and the Hastings Council received their share of criticism as well).
Both sessions would have provided HBRC with important feedback on its modus operandi. One might have assumed that a responsive and accountable Council would want at least to get a sense of the public pulse.
However, our Regional Council has zero interest in nonsense like critical feedback.
Their absence tells it all.