'Broken local government system' blamed for scrapping of Tasman dam project

Should local councillors make the final decision on big infrastructure projects?

"No" is the firm answer from those in the Tasman District who wanted the Waimea Community Dam built.

After 17 years in the making, the $102 million project was ditched yesterday. The majority of councillors believing its escalating costs were unaffordable to ratepayers.

The Nelson Tasman region is the second largest producer of apples and berries in the country.

Without a dam, new council rules will require urban and rural water users on the Waimea Plains to significantly cut back water use during dry periods until another solution is found.

With millions of dollars at stake, irrigators say deciding on big projects, like the dam, is too big a responsibility for local councils.

"Unfortunately our local government system is broken in New Zealand," explains Wai-West Horticulture Director Julian Raine.

"Because not only is it happening in Tasman, it's actually facing a number of regional, district and unitary authorities around New Zealand."

Despite being against damming rivers, freshwater scientist Dr Mike Joy agrees.

"I don't think the big scale things should be made by local councils, they have a vested interest in it they're so politically influenced by what's happening around them."

Dr Joy says these big decisions should be made by a board of inquiry or the Environmental Protection Authority.
But the best option, he says, is to think small.

"If you spread the money they were going to spend on a big dam out amongst small projects around the community you'll get much more resilience and value for your dollar," he says.

However, Local Government New Zealand says councillors are "precisely" the right people to make the call. They have the technical advice and represent the people who have to pay for it.

"If the promoters of a project have not been able to convince a council to expend ratepayer monies on it, that will reflect the attributes of a project," says Local Government President Dave Cull.

And if voters don't agree with their local representatives, they can have their say at election time.

It’s raised concerns that major decisions on big projects shouldn’t be left up to local councils. Source: 1 NEWS



'Some links to the Mongrel Mob' – seven charged after BOP police sting sees guns, Hilux vehicles, $21k cash, drugs seized

Police have arrested and charged seven people after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Speaking to media today Senior Sergeant Richard Miller said the operation had "some links to the Mongrel Mob".

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investigation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller briefed media today. Source: 1 NEWS

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

The seven are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Along with methamphetamine and cannabis, 26 firearms and more than $21,000 in cash has been seized.

Three stolen Toyota Hilux utes were recovered from one address in Kawerau, along with a number of power tools.

A stolen Toyota Hilux Surf and trailer were recovered from another address.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police


Man, 26, charged over weekend stabbing of another left with life-threatening injuries in Napier

A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm over the stabbing of another man in Napier at the weekend.

Police say the incident occurred on Bledisloe Road, Maraenui, about 9.45pm on Saturday. 

Police were advised a short time later when a 42-year-old man arrived at the Wellesley Medical Centre with life-threatening injuries.

He remains in Hawke's Bay Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The man arrested has been remanded in custody and is due to reappear in Hastings District Court in four weeks.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information relevant to the investigation is being urged to contact Hawke’s Bay Police on (06) 873 0500, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police car at night Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
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Midwives met with silence on pay equity funding model

New Zealand midwives are heading into a "make-or-break" pay talk meeting with the Government today.

The focus of the meeting will be on a funding model co-designed by midwives and the Ministry of Health, as part of a settlement reached when the College of Midwives dropped an earlier pay equity court challenge against the Ministry.

The College of Midwives described the settlement as a legally-binding certainty that addressed their long-standing concerns, and the Government's failure to act on it was a breach of the terms of mediation.

College chief executive Karen Guilliland has hinted at the possibility of starting new legal action over pay equity before a meeting later today with Health Minister David Parker.

Ms Guilliland told Nine to Noon the college believed it had an agreement in principle over the model and was awaiting sign-off, but had since been met with silence.

Documents released under the Official Information Act show that as far back as December last year the Health Ministry was recommending against implementing the funding model.

The documents showed the funding model would cost up to $353 million a year - three times the current funding level, which was considered unaffordable.

It was also likely to impact on wider healthcare funding.

Ms Guilliland said they never expected overnight results, and while community midwives welcomed an 8.9 per cent "catch-up" pay increase announced in Budget 2018, it did little to address the gender pay gap.

Ms Guilliland said it was not unrealistic to expect a trebling of funding, as that was what they believed had been agreed upon.

"It was agreed this was what it would cost, and this was what the value of the work that midwifery did.

"You know, people... when they talk about pay equity seem to forget it will require quite a large injection of funds."

Ms Guilliland did not think they exited the earlier legal action too early.

The Human Rights Commission facilitated the mediation, after the historic gender equity case was filed by the New Zealand College of Midwives in 2016.

Ms Guilliland said the action through the Commission was a principled one based on gender discrimination. She said the college thought it would be a quicker process and because it believed the Ministry, it signed up to the agreement.

"Our problem is one of constant reassurances, constant hope, and false promises."

Ms Guilliland said today's meeting was about ensuring faith within the workforce and getting the Minister's backing.

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A petition is being handed over to parliament carrying more than 13,000 signatures. Source: 1 NEWS


New Zealand's female MPs, including Jacinda Ardern with baby Neve, recreate 1905 Parliament photo

New Zealand's female MPs have today recreated a 1905 photo of former Premier Richard Seddon and his colleagues. 

It comes as the country celebrates 125 years since women won the right to vote. However, women were not allowed to stand in Parliament until 1919. Elizabeth McCombs was elected as the first female MP in 1933. 

Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905.
Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905. Source: Supplied

Jacinda Ardern cradles her baby Neve in the photograph. 

Mr Seddon was New Zealand Premier from 1893 to 1906, winning five consecutive elections. 

Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905.
Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905. Source: Supplied

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, baby Neve and New Zealand's female MPs.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, baby Neve and New Zealand's female MPs. Source: Supplied