A putrid stench in the Canterbury environment

Here is a blunt message to Environment Canterbury Councillors Mark Oldfield, Pat Harrow, Angus McKay, and Bronwen Murray:


In December last year you were found by the Auditor-General to have a conflict of interest regarding decisions over water resource management, since you yourselves, as holders of consents regarding water, have significant pecuniary interests in the issue.

But you persisted in participating and voting on ECan decisions involving water – including the one last week to recommend a “compromise” decision in the face of the barrel of the gun that threatens to disestablish your Regional Council and appoint a Commissioner.

Don’t you get it, Councillors?  If you have a conflict of interest, you should not even be present at the meeting, let alone voting at it, when water management is being debated!

Unfortunately, the story gets even grubbier and murkier than this – and it goes right back to central Government and Rodney Hide who initiated a review of ECan after complaints of undue delays in processing water resource consents.

Former National Party Deputy Prime Minister Wyatt Creech was appointed to head the ECan review.  At the time he was a Director of a company called Open Country Cheese Dairy Limited.

In 2007, Creech’s company Open Country Cheese was fined a total of $55,000 in the Hamilton District Court after pleading guilty to 11 charges laid by Environment Waikato relating to illegal effluent discharges and storage.  So much for an impartial investigation.  As someone whose company was proven in court to be complicit in illegal effluent discharges, Creech himself had a serious conflict of interest in heading an inquiry that involved water consents as its most substantial issue.  His colours had already been nailed to the mast.

The review report Investigation of the Performance of Environment Canterbury, found:

Resolving water resource issues is complex and involves controversial and difficult judgments to achieve the appropriate balance between the environmental, economic, social and cultural considerations that must be taken into account.  Experience to date indicates that Environment Canterbury has not managed these competing demands and interests effectively.  All too frequently, the outcome has been undue delays rather than progress and frustration levels on all sides are high.

Institutional failure it may be, but with at least four ECan Councillors, despite their conflict of interest,  continually pushing the interests of themselves and their mates in big dairy to extract as much water and discharge as much effluent as they want, and completely failing to address ecological considerations, no decisions were ever going to be made quickly.

The Creech review demonstrated an arrogant contempt for democracy and recommended taking all water decision-making in Canterbury away from elected representatives.

According to The Star, former National Party Prime Minister Jenny Shipley (the architect of the 1991 benefit cuts, in case you don’t recall), for whom Creech occasionally deputised as PM in the late 1990s,  is now being touted as a Government-appointed Commissioner to carry out Ecan’s functions when/if Rodney Hide arbitrarily sacks all of ECan’s elected members.

So it looks like Canterbury is in for a taste of the “Auckland treatment” – local democracy gutted and decision-making handed over to unelected Ministerial appointees to ensure commercial interests, in this case big dairy, prevail over everything else – even, as Russel Norman points out, the quality of Canterbury’s drinking water.

24 Comments Posted


    Toad: I don’t think the ACT party could be capable of being embarrassed about anything as for the honours system knights are a rogues gallery.

    Should anyone hold a knighthood (although Helen Clark disbanded the title) in New Zealand it could serve as a warning to all honest people.

    We can lobby the Monkey but what will it do? he and his party broke most of the election promises regarding environmental issues and they are not taking the slightest bit of notice. We may as well be talking to the wall!!

    Lobbying may be the answer, lobbying the public to get the Nationals out in the next election.

  2. I think this is a last grab for power by those who have always wielded control over resources, and precedes the general collapse of their basic ideology.


  3. Then up came McBean with a very sly wink.
    And he said, “I don’t really care if your rivers are stink.
    So don’t care what poo is in the river with you.
    But come with me, friends. Do you know what I’ll do?
    I’ll make you, again, the best Creeches and leeches.
    And all it will cost you is two Nat votes eaches.”

  4. Then up came McBean with a very sly wink.
    And he said, “Things are not quite as bad as you think.
    So you don’t know who’s who. That is perfectly true.
    But come with me, friends. Do you know what I’ll do?
    I’ll make you, again, the best Sneetches on the beaches.
    And all it will cost you is ten dollars eaches.”

    Curiously, Sylvester McMonKEY McBean seems quite relaxed [not loraxed, frog, sorry] with the antidemocratic developments at Environment Canterbury.

    Just as he appears to be with those re the Auckland Supercity:

    Prime Minister John Key is defending the plan that will lock out Aucklanders in favour of unelected directors running more than 75 per cent of services in the Super City.

  5. Talk about the foxes in charge of the chicken coop!

    Douglas back on the Act list. Brash chairing the 2025 Taskforce. Rankin on the Families Commission. Even homophobic arch-bigot Brian Neeson on the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

    the trouble is your opposite sides of the same coin.

  6. I agree with frog, who first didn’t acknowledge her title. But as someone who has been reprimanded by frog for diverting the threat already, isn’t this just another diversion john-ston?

  7. Yes, by some strange mechanism, I understand she did get a titular honour.

    I still prefer to bypass the titular honorifics and refer to people by their given names. I have felt that ever since Robert Muldoon effectively awarded a knighthood to himself, which completely devalued titular honours imo.

    Not to mention Sir Albert Henry and Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

  8. Drakula, the Act Party miserably failed to discipline Hide over his travel rort, even though it was seriously embarrassing to them. Waste of time going there, I think.

    So I guess I would go straight to the top in lobbying – to Sylvester McMonKEY McBean.

    And to the National MPs in Canterbury, who will have some electoral sensitivity to this issue.

  9. The star bellied Creeches have also got their beadey little eyes on raising the level of Lake Coleridge to grab more water.

    It will be interesting as to how that goes down with Trustpower.

    As a a Cantabrian I am very disgusted that ratepayers are denied a mandate for Ecan I wonder how much time and chance people will have to put in submissions.

    OPr is it ‘fate accomply’?

  10. The head of Genesis as Commissioner of Environment Canterbury, Richard Dawkins as the next Arch-Bishop of Canterbury.

  11. The brief ‘war for water’ in Canterbury and the control there-of, was easily won by National. They have what the gunned for and have managed, as is their wont, to confuse the public sufficiently that many will be thinking that the new arrangement is a fair one. Now that Canterbury has fallen, the next water-rich region will be in their sights, though the methods for gaining control over their water will differ. The Feds will be toasting their success, with as much water as they care to drink, pour down the drain, sluice their cowsheds out, drench their soils and fill their swimming pools with.
    There is something distinctly Suessian about all this, though it’s Fat Cats wearing those hats.

  12. Stranglers, Toad! Cool and agreed, I thought we were on topic as well!
    Chocolate fish is nasty though! It’s been said before, but …

    “Are those brown trout Mummy?”

  13. Whales.

    Come on guys.


    [frog: Hey, toad and greenfly – I know you are having fun, and I’m enjoying it too. But do try to keep it on topic. Greenfly, you requested a post on Environment Canterbury. If you’re into Dr Suess, The Lorax is probably more appropriate for this thread.

    Working on whales too greenfly, but only so many hours in an amphibian’s day.]

  14. Now, the Star-Belly Creeches
    Had bellies with stars.
    The Plain-Belly Creeches
    Had none upon thars.

    Now, who do you suppose Sylvester McMonKEY McBean is ‘fly?

  15. Talk about the foxes in charge of the chicken coop!

    Douglas back on the Act list. Brash chairing the 2025 Taskforce. Rankin on the Families Commission. Even homophobic arch-bigot Brian Neeson on the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

    If Shipley gets to be the ECan Commissioner, that leaves only one of the high profile old NACT cronies left for a job (apart from Donna Awatere – surely they can’t rehabilitate her).

    Prebble! There must be a pearler lined up for him. Chair of Auckland Transport, perhaps – so he can “Save Rail” again!

Comments are closed.