As Shell visits Dunedin to update council and business
leaders on its plans for the Great South Basin, one city
councillor is worried about the negative message the city's
community is sending to the oil and gas industry.
Cr Andrew Whiley said he had ''a big issue'' with the recent
consultation process around the council's submission on the
2014 petroleum block offer.
Council staff have previously said the fact the public
consultation period was short and badly timed was out of the
They also say they recognise the way the council consults and
engages the community needs work, and a review of how it does
that has been under way for several months.
The council called for public submissions to help shape its
own response to consultation on the 2014 petroleum block
offer process being run by New Zealand Petroleum and
The council was given one day's notice of a short submission
period, which was also over the local body election period
The consultation was advertised online and in local
newspapers, and an article appeared in the Otago Daily
Of the 227 community submissions returned, 199 opposed oil
and gas exploration.
Cr Whiley said he was ''really concerned'' the submissions
sent a message that 90% of the population in Dunedin was
He felt the council could have done its consultation better
and had not promoted it in the true sense, as it had with
issues around mobile traders or cycleways, and there was no
real sense of what was involved in the submission.
He was particularly concerned about the timing of the
consultation and that there was little notice of the
submission being in the public domain.
He believed a ''whole raft of people that support the oil and
gas industry'' would have been interested in submitting had
they been more aware of it.
He would ''hate to think'' the oil and gas industry might
look at this and think it was the attitude of Dunedin, and
become disinterested in coming south, he said.
''As the deputy chair of the economic development committee,
I definitely think we need to be focusing on all business
DCC corporate policy team leader Maria Ioannou said staff had
expected a period of several months for consultation, but
were given one day's notice that it would be conducted during
local body elections and conclude just after that.
The process for consulting with the community was overseen by
then chief executive Paul Orders and the timing meant it had
to be a staff submission.
At the time, Ms Ioannou said the DCC and other councils had
pointed out the submission period made it difficult for
councils to make a democratic submission on an issue of
This week, she said while there were specific issues with
that particular consultation, it had become clear to the
council some time ago that it needed to review its
That work had broadened to include looking at how to improve
community engagement in general, to ensure consultation
across the council was consistent.
She said in the new year council staff hoped to talk to the
public generally about what worked for them and what did not.