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Deceit (of Hawkes Bay Public) No 2 Bill

  • May 13th, 2014

On Friday I foreshadowed a proposal to promote legislation for deception even more breath-taking than the Heritage NZ Poutere Taonga Bill.

Hawkes Bay Today (supplemented by the fine print on a Council website) show that Parliament’s incompetence at reading its Bills, and the credulity of ratepayers and citizens is now taken so for granted, that a Bill is coming that has deceit as its only purpose..

One can understand, if not excuse, gilding the lily, or even burying abuses of power deep in words that still have some other real purpose.

But Hastings District Council is bringing a local Bill to Parliament that will have no useful purpose other than deceiving the citizens of Hawkes Bay about “ring fencing”. They are to be misled into thinking that they are legislatively protected against carrying the cost of Hastings’ huge debt if they amalgamate with Hastings.

They believe their own councils have been more prudent and they object to the feckless neighbour now planning to gobble the advantage of their self-restraint. .

The draft Bill says that Hastings debt can be secured only over land in the current Hastings District Council’s area for at least 6 years after the takeover.

But Simpson Grierson who drafted it, and the Council’s internal lawyers, and anyone with any experience of accounting, will know if they bother to read about it,  that it will have absolutely no practical limiting effect (unless the proposed new super-city Hawkes Bay goes broke in that period)  It will do nothing whatsoever to protect the other residents against rate rises because of the Hastings debt servicing burden.

Amounts taken from Hastings ratepayers to meet Hastings debt may be dedicated to interest or repayment, but as described the Bill will do nothing to protect the rest of the region from having to pick up other costs of Hastings, or against having to carry a 'disproportionate' share of the overall region costs.

I hope this marks the high (low) point of disdain for truth and transparency in legislation, and contempt for the intelligence of voters.

It must rank among the worst for insolent disregard for the cost of Parliamentary time. Minister Craig Foss has undertaken to introduce it. He might claim that convention obliges MPs to sponsor local Bills whether or not they agree with them. But he foolishly went further and claimed that it will “allow everyone to concentrate on the core issues around amalgamation as opposed to some of these issues which have distracted some people”.

The pigs of Animal Farm would have been impressed by a politician who could say that about a Bill that he should know has no purpose other than “distracting” voters (a euphemism for deceiving them). Or perhaps he took at face value what Hastings has been telling him?


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