Row at hearing leads to walkout

Commissioners from left, Rob Potts, Denis Nugent and Yvette Couch-Lewis at the Sewerage hearings in Te Anau.

Commissioners from left, Rob Potts, Denis Nugent and Yvette Couch-Lewis at the Sewerage hearings in Te Anau.

A commissioner walked out of his own hearing in Te Anau yesterday after a row erupted over evidence for the proposed controversial sewerage scheme.

Te Anau resident and submitter John Hardcastle was speaking about potential health effects from spraying sewage on to land, when hearing commissioner Denis Nugent told him he was out of order.

The row developed over what type of information could be presented at the hearing.

Nugent said submitters could only speak about the further evidence which had been submitted by the Southland District Council since the first hearings in July.

As Nugent and Hardcastle attempted to speak over top of one another, Hardcastle's wife Marlys said, with her voice raised, there would be rioting in the streets of Te Anau if the proposal was approved. "There's a giant cover-up going on."

Nugent said: "I'm not going to have a stand-up argument again with the pair of you."

If the Hardcastles had submitted their evidence at the July hearings it would have been considered, but it was not relevant to this hearing, he said.

"You have no right to be heard at this part of the hearing except in relation to the further information [provided by the Southland District Council].

"This hearing is adjourned . . . we will return when Mr Hardcastle has left," Nugent said.

Hardcastle didn't leave so the commissioner walked out.

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Hardcastle continued to speak as commissioners, experts, and submitters left the room, but he stopped and left the hearing about 10 minutes later.

At the hearing, Manapouri resident Murray Hagen said the only reason Hardcastle kept pushing for his evidence to be heard was because the commissioner would not let him speak at the July hearings.

"They just kept shutting him down at the first hearings," Hagen said.

The hearing reconvened after 15 minutes.

After the hearing, Hardcastle said he was not surprised the commissioner had walked out.

"I really don't care if he was offended. We're offended by the proposal [sewerage scheme]."

A decision won't be released until January.


 - The Southland Times

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