Perhaps fruitgrowers should stick to picking apples.

Here’s a message circulating this week telling fruitgrowers who they should vote for — supposedly friends of the industry. It’s from Dianne Vesty, Executive Officer of HB Fruitgrowers Association … (those  in boldface are the recommended choices)

Have you voted yet? Have you reminded your family and employees to vote?

We have an opportunity to vote for fruitgrower representatives and supportive reps on Councils and this is the first opportunity for a long time to have more representation which is supportive of the industry.

EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE NOW

As soon as your voting papers arrive – Tick the boxes and get it in the mail straight away.

Hastings District Councilors for the Heretaunga Ward (2 positions)

Ru Collin
– Rod Heaps
Richard McKenzie
– Des Ratima

HB Regional Council Hastings Constituency (4 seats)

· Kevin Rose
· Tom Belford
· Robert Burnside
· Eileen von Dadelszen
· Ewan McGregor
· Murray Douglas
· Liz Remmerswaal

HB Regional Council Napier Constituency (3 seats)

· Neil Kirton
· Alan Dick
· Allan Baldock
· Tim Tinker
· Christine Scott

That’s it. No reasons. No analysis.

In my particular case, I find the endorsements a bit strange.

No one fought harder against the incursion of the regional sports park onto fertile Heretaunga Plains soil during the Hastings Council’s decision-making process than I did. Fruitgrowers-endorsed candidate Allan Baldock would testify to that; I was often his only defender. Meanwhile, endorsed Councillors von Dadelszen (whose husband’s law firm represented HDC in the matter), McGregor (whose spouse, HDC Councillor Cynthia Bowers was a champion of the park), and Kevin Rose couldn’t wait to give $2.5 million of HBRC ratepayers funds to the regional sports park.

And I don’t recall endorsed HDC candidates Ru Collin or Richard McKenzie ever engaging in this battle. Nor were they on hand to fight the Northern Arterial Road, which would have chewed up even more orchard land.

So much for HB Fruitgrowers Assn protecting the land!

Looking at the bigger picture, I made a robust submission on the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) strongly endorsing the “compact development” option that was most protective of Plains soils. And I sat on the stakeholders group that endorsed this protective strategy. Fruitgrowers-endorsed HBRC Councillors McGregor and Rose sat on the sidelines and ultimately merely accepted the study, having had no hand in shaping it. [At least Councillor von Dadelszen played an active role with Chairman Alan Dick on behalf of HBRC.]

To be clear, I have no problem whatsoever with candidate endorsements. Obviously, as BayBuzz editor I’ve made some of my own (here they are, with additional analysis here). Indeed, HB Fruitgrowers, the HB Chamber of Commerce, Grey Power and other groups would actually do the public a favour if they issued reasoned cases for supporting or opposing various candidates. The voting public would be better off with more information to weigh from diverse voices.

But all knee-jerk HB Fruitgrowers has done here is tick the boxes of the ‘old boys network’, not bothering to find out where most of the challengers actually stand on the most pertinent issues.

Opportunity to inform, spoiled.

Tom Belford

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6 Comments

  1. Murray Douglas is also a man of the land – producing stone fruit and figs etc so the Fruitgrowers Assco should also have suggested for other people of the land to vote for him.

  2. Hardly surprising, since I've seen the HB Fruitgrower's (really a sub-committee of big business interests) arguing for both use of GMOs and in support of more residential development on growing land – two planks rather at odds, you would think, with most of their members' wishes.

  3. Mike,
    I can name four other candidates who are orchardists or who have long ties to the industry — no one from Fruitgrowers Assn even asked their opinion about any issues.
    And I fought the sports park being plopped on prime Plains land when a lot of these other endorsed-candidates were gung ho for the project.
    So I’m happy to let my record stand … and just wish Fruitgrowers Assn had thought before they knee-jerked.
    Tom

  4. Do you have a problem with people voting for candidates who may support their way of thinking Tom?

    I guess you aren't expecting much support from voters that should "stick to picking apples"!

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