Dargaville & Districts
OPINION: Happy New Year.
Last year was indeed a challenge both locally, regionally and nationally. Of significance major change occurred in council with the appointment of four commissioners following the resignations of councillors after the government-appointed review team released its report.
The commissioners led by John Robertson have quickly availed themselves of the multitude of issues confronting the Kaipara District Council, not the least the extraordinary debt, much of it of course due to the Eco Care scheme in Mangawhai.
There are a number of investigations and activities now under way to look at decisions made with regard to the Eco Care scheme (by the Office of the Auditor General), the activities of the annual auditor and the decisions of the previous council.
These investigations may well lead to subsequent actions but it is important not to pre-judge their outcomes and understand that problems facing the council have developed over a number of years following many hundreds of decisions and involved numerous people.
Among the many actions under way, the commissioners have also asked me as the local member to sponsor a local bill into the House.
The aim of this bill is to rectify and remedy largely technical deficiencies for which services have been provided.
To this end there will be no impact for the vast majority in this process, but it is a necessary one to bring the activities of KDC back on to the appropriate operational footing.
Local bills are reasonably common and are pieces of legislation which deal with very local issues.
The bill is prepared by the local authority and presented to Parliament as a local bill for its consideration.
This process provides the opportunity for people to make submissions and be heard by a select committee comprising Members of Parliament. This is essentially the highest court in the land and provides an opportunity for all concerned to air their grievances and expose failings to a cross section of parliamentarians and will give me as the local member an opportunity to speak openly in the House about the failings and the need for accountability.
I will be submitting to the select committee that the hearings should be held in the Kaipara district.
The commissioners have made it clear that they would not hinder possible legal action by the council over the decision to expand the Mangawhai wastewater scheme.
I have also made it clear to the commissioners that I will do what is required in the best interests of ratepayers and will support the bill if it is the best means of remedying technical deficiencies, as long as does not unfairly impact on ratepayers.
We all need to get behind them and one-another and make sure the district gets its council back on its feet as soon as possible - and it will, if we work together.
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