A casting vote by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull was needed to
settle renewed divisions over fracking at a Dunedin City
Council meeting yesterday.
The issue re-emerged at yesterday's full council meeting,
after councillors last month voted 7-6 in favour of adding
Dunedin's voice to calls for a national moratorium on
The controversial oil and gas extraction process was already
being investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the
Environment and a report is due by November.
Cr Syd Brown told yesterday's meeting he did not understand
why the council would join others in calling for a moratorium
ahead of the results of that investigation.
He believed the sheer volume of information available on both
sides of the debate made it difficult to make a "judgement
call" on the technique. None of it had been presented to
councillors before they voted to endorse the moratorium calls
on behalf of the city, he said.
"As far as Dunedin city is concerned, we should sit on the
fence, wait on the Government to report back, and then find
out from that information whether Dunedin needs to take a
position," he said.
His comments won support from Cr Neil Collins, who said the
council's role was partly to support projects providing the
city extra employment, growth and wealth.
Despite the potential for oil and gas exploration in the
region, the city's decision to endorse the moratorium sent a
signal "we're not that interested", he believed.
Deputy Mayor Chris Staynes took exception to the comments,
pointing out the council's moratorium call made no mention of
whether the city supported oil and gas activities. It asked
the Government only to take a "precautionary" approach until
results of the official investigation were known, he said.
He also rejected the "very, very sensationalised comments" by
the Otago Chamber of Commerce and a "local MP" over fracking
and support for oil and gas exploration.
National's Dunedin-based list MP, Michael Woodhouse, last
month questioned the council's support forsuch exploration
off the coast in the wake of its moratorium call.
Chamber president Peter McIntyre last week expressed concern
at negative comments by Mr Cull and Cr Jinty MacTavish about
the oil and gas industry.
Cr Lee Vandervis said yesterday the moratorium call went a
"step too far", while Cr Fliss Butcher believed the council
should be "loud and noisy" in its opposition to fracking,
because of the environmental risks it posed.
Yesterday's debate also centred on whether councillors could
reverse the earlier decision to join the moratorium call.
Councillors at last month's committee meeting had the power
to decide that, because the report on the issue had been
listed as a "Part A" item.
That gave councillors at the committee meeting the final say,
their decision not requiring final approval at the next full
Yesterday's discussion occurred because the full council was
asked only to approve the minutes of last month's meeting,
including the fracking vote result.
Whether to do so was eventually put to the vote following
yesterday's debate, with the result locked 7-7 until Mr Cull
used his casting vote to "maintain the will of the planning
and environment committee".
Crs Butcher, Paul Hudson, MacTavish, Staynes, Teresa
Stevenson, Kate Wilson and Mr Cull voted for; Bill Acklin,
John Bezett, Brown, Collins, Andrew Noone, Vandervis and
Colin Weatherall against.