Omigosh!! Common sense might prevail … if the advice of an expert QC lawyer prevails.
The long-labouring Joint Committee on Coastal Hazards – representing the Hastings, Napier and regional Councils – commissioned lawyer Raynor Asher QC to advise the Committee on the politically vexing matter of what organisational structure might best strategise, fund and implement a programme to protect HB’s coastline from weather hazards, including the onset of climate change.
The Joint Committee over the years has done an excellent job, with extensive public participation, of scoping out the various protection measures that might be required over the next 50 years and beyond, but has stumbled over making a call on how to fund and control such efforts.
How many times do we need to hear this story when facing our challenges of regional significance?!
So the Committee asked the QC to do the dirty work of recommending a way forward.
After 138 paragraphs of well-footnoted analysis, Mr Asher QC came to … well, common sense.
Here are his recommendations:
“I recommend that the HBRC takes charge of all aspects of the prevention and mitigation of coastal hazards on the Clifton to Tangoio coast including deciding on preventative, mitigating or remedial works, making all decisions about rating for these works and collecting those rates, the implementation of all decisions including supervising works, and the control of all maintenance. I recommend that there be an advisory committee which includes members of both the NCC and HDC, but that this advisory committee has no decision-making powers, and no ability to delay the implementation of proposals.
“My recommendation is that the HBRC should take charge of:
(a) The collection of the rates that will fund the projects;
(b) Deciding which rate payers should pay and in what amounts and proportions;
(c) Deciding and controlling the projects to which the funds are applied; and
(d) Implementation of the projects.”
Why did he come to this conclusion? Commenting on shared authority options, the QC says:
“The key disadvantage … is that there would be the opportunity for conflict and stalemate, as councillors from particular authorities sought to maximise the position of the ratepayers that they represent, rather than the good of the Clifton to Tangoio coast as a whole.
“The great advantage of the HBRC being in charge, is that its councillors from all constituencies have a duty to advance the interests of the whole region, rather than one part of it. They are better able to manage a coast which demands a whole of coast approach, rather than one dictated by the boundaries of territorial authorities.”
This will undoubtedly cause severe heartburn at the Hastings District and Napier City Councils (and eventually at their country cousins, the Waiora and CHB District Councils).
In such ‘regional’ matters (civil defence is a similar example), every politician wants his/her council to ‘control’ strategy and implementation, but no one wants the extra costs on their council’s ratings bill – Politics 101.
In this case, there’s nothing but pure logic and common sense in having one agency – the Regional Council – in charge of addressing this regional challenge, with the territorial authorities in a purely advisory capacity.
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out, with yet another major joint public consultation to be carried out in 2022.
Politics 101 or common sense? BayBuzz will be reporting.
For you ‘good government’ buffs, here’s the full report.