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Elections 2016: Vision Kerikeri's questions to the candidates - and their responses.

Vision Kerikeri (VKK) recently posed a range of questions to the nine candidates seeking election to the Bay of Islands - Whangaroa Ward of the Far North District Council and to the two Mayoral candidates.. These questions relate to issues that VKK has been active in pursuing with the existing council(s) over a number of years. You can view the questions and responses by scrolling down the page.


Climate Change

Do you believe that it is a Council role to show leadership in limiting or reducing carbon emissions and thus helping to mitigate the future impact of climate change on the Far North District?

Tania McInnes: Yes

Fred Terry: I do not think it is the Council’s specific core duty, but do believe that in any development or policy the council initiates, it is compliant with the best code of environmental law

Ann Court: Councils functions are dictated by the LGA 2012 - Our role is deliver core infrastructure and services at least cost to home owners and businesses (abridged). We have a role to play in achieving National Environmental Standards and we do this through policy, by-laws, district plan changes to name a few - we are not however leaders in the true sense of the word in climate change we are reactionary to central dictated legislation. Our role therefore is reactive rather than proactive. I wouldn't want to see our scope expanded at this time as we have limited capacity to respond to matters outside of our mandated brief and I remain concerned that these goals whilst laudable and sensible can divert precious ratepayer funded resources away from core business - therefore in reply I think given the ratepayers ability to pay for resourcing climate change initiatives over and above our core functions either by physical support or infrastructural changes is probably a little too tight at the moment - the current balance is about right.

Jane Johnston: Yes Council must show leadership in terms of how it conducts its business to reduce its corporate environmental footprint. It is even more critical though, that it understands its fundamental role in providing the systemic changes required to enable households and businesses to change how they do their business. The fact is it is local councils – as territorial authorities – that have been delegated the functions and array of powers to deliver the “communal” systems that facilitate how individuals, households and businesses behave in going about their daily lives - what they can and can’t do to reduce their individual footprint, that in turn contributes to our collective footprint. For example, transportation network, land use zoning, urban design, building design, waste management, provisions for water, waste water, and for storm-water are all interlinked within a settlement system. The academic discipline of urban geography is all about this – and I am very good at ‘systems’ thinking and got an A for that subject within my BSc – and then continued to study urban development for 10yrs as I taught the subject in NZ and in the UK, and then moved into strategic planning, which is all about how to steer towards a preferred ‘framework’ and system and prevent a basket case one that delivers the opposite of what we need to be doing if we are seriously about survival on this planet! There is very little that an individual, household or business does that has not been influenced by the systems designed and built by councils (and Govt). Every step of the way, councils are in the driving seat and making important decisions that lead to status quo and resource hungry communities or towards a more sustainable form of development, that facilitates people doing things differently. If you aren’t sure if I know what I am talking about – I share with you two pieces of research I did as a consultant to MfE.... One is about how it might influence councils to do more to promote sustainable households, the other focused on promoting sustainable businesses. A big problem for us mere minions is that Government chose not to publish my work – in fact it abandoned the whole “sustainable development” agenda – so what had been a very proactive Ministry for the Environment was gutted and hardly does anything anymore. The NZ Energy Strategy was binned, the Sustainable Cities Programme went west, ICLEI and the Climate Change office – gone. Government instead focused on economic growth by any means and at any (environmental, social, and cultural) cost, and on consolidation and making big businesses even bigger (etc).

Patrick Crawshaw: Yes, I think F.N.D.C. should lead the way in mitigating the impact of climate change.

Dave Hookway: Yes most definitely.

Harko Brown: Council can be proactive by taking regard for rising sea-levels in their legislation and planning. To me such recognition and advocacy is a means for safeguarding our people and their properties in the Far North. It is also a way to protect needless wastage of rates. Why build a roadway, or rubber stamp as housing development, along a coastline when the future projections say it will be flooded in twenty years?

Peter Gill (Mayoral Candidate): Yes, I do believe that. I have even debated the idea of attending election meetings that I have been invited to in places such as Whatuwhiwhi on the end of the Karikari Peninsular, based on carbon miles. An educated guess told me that I might get 18 in the audience. Thus the carbon miles travelled were about 11km per person attending. As someone who IS interested in the issue of carbon foot print, I cannot be seen to be racking up that amount of carbon just to try to get myself elected. I have proposed other ways, such as Skype, to the people there. Council changing to electric cars? Not quite yet. Their range is a bit restricted for a territory this big. As a motoring writer, I feel safe in saying this. (Authority: Peter Gill, HarperCollins book "Ten Times Round The Clock", and founder of the NZ Motoring Writers Guild). Charging stations are happening, and will continue to do so. Kawakawa has one now, Paihia is may already have happened.

Steve McNally: Did not respond.

Willow-Jean Prime: Did not respond.

John Carter (Mayoral Candidate): Did not respond

If you think that it is important what do you think that Council should do about it if you were elected?

Tania McInnes: Council needs to develop clear policy, based on sound research and after it has consulted with the community.

Fred Terry: (refer to Fred's response to the first question).

Ann Court: (refer to Ann's response to the first question)

Jane Johnston: tAs a critical first step I would seek to have a CEO appointed who understands the important role of a local authority in driving the necessary systemic changes needed to support communities to take a more sustainable pathway into the future. I would argue a necessity to have “implementing corporate responsibility” - to reduce the organisations environmental footprint and to promote beneficial social outcomes and local economic advantages - included as a key task and link it to their Key Performance Indicators and make it a core part of their performance review. I would argue to peg the CEOs performance pay to delivering a much more efficient, effective AND sustainable organisation.... nothing like what we’ve got now. I would work to have a sustainability manager appointed to benchmark the organisations environmental, social and economic (efficiency) performance – and seek to have 6 monthly progress reports (triple bottom line monitoring and reporting), and have Councillors set targets for the organisation performance against the triple bottom lines. I would drive a cultural change, to reduce, reuse, recycle in all aspects of ‘how’ people perform their role. Every council that has undertaken an energy audit and had an energywise officer appointed has saved significantly more money than they spent on having that person on the staff. They need to keep at it, as staff fall back into old bad habits until it is entrenched into the culture as a new way of behaving. I would push to establish sustainable procurement policies – even for inclusion in tender and contracting arrangements (to compel change of everyone Ratepayers are paying to work for them) AND concurrently would establish a Corporate sustainable practices manual. I’m also a strong advocate of ‘buy local’ to support small local businesses (not just big firms – from Aussie or Auckland or wherever), even for roading maintenance! And, I would argue to have a bunch of jobs internalised again – council workers filing in the pot holes, and driving the grader to re-grade local unsealed roads, spreading the gravel and mowing the verges. It is not a cost savings to have one big contracting firm doing the whole District or Region – that’s a myth promulgated by the amalgamation-consolidation cheerleaders. Amalgamation hasn’t been making anything cheaper or more efficient when done to Government agencies, or in relation to the local government sector. It has delivered the opposite (but has generated profits for a few – you might want to check out how much Transfield returned to its shareholders last year). I would promote the opposite – dispersal of workers into the communities they serve, and localism. Town handypeople/work gangs if you will – tasked with maintaining and fixing everything that needs doing in these small towns – unless it really is a big job – which might require greater expertise and access to equipment etc not needed all the time. The roving worker gang – for the big jobs – and nothing wrong with contracting an expert to work with communities from time to time for the rarer jobs (like designing a new sewage scheme). I would promote and participate in structure planning with communities to ensure these factor in sustainability criteria in the design. Sustainability does demand planning to retrofit existing places, structures and systems and feeding into the next iteration of asset management plans (and consequently into annual plans and long term plans), and also into the review of the District Plans. Council is THE regulator of land use activities – and can have a lot of influence on what ought to be allowed to take place where and how – this is a fundamental CRITICAL role in providing for more sustainable development.

Patrick Crawshaw: A more sustainable approach to everything we do is needed. Electric cars are a good start and the development of Ngawha as a renewable energy industrial park would help too. I think we should be rewarding people who want to reduce their electricity bills by installing solar energy, not penalising them.

Dave Hookway: Council should take the lead in waste management – taking back private contracts and re-employing local people to recycle as much waste as possible – with the aim of reducing landfill mass – and consequential gases. It should assess its current carbon footprint and seek community input as to the level of change they would like – and fund where necessary.