The Dunedin City Council has ruled out throwing its
weight behind the Wise Response Appeal, after councillors
divided into camps over environmental concerns and fears of
party political lobbying.
The council was asked, at last month's council public forum,
to sign the appeal by Emeritus Prof Sir Alan Mark, on behalf
of appeal organisers. The appeal urged the New Zealand
Parliament to undertake an objective national assessment of
the risks posed by climate change, economic instability and
other potential threats to New Zealand's wellbeing.
However, councillors at Monday's full council meeting were
split over the request, with some urging action while others
feared it would open the council up to increased political
lobbying by other groups.
Councillors eventually voted 7-5 against the council adding
its name to the appeal, and instead decided only to ''note''
a staff report detailing the appeal.
However, council staff would be able to sign up to the appeal
as individuals, alongside councillors - some of whom already
The decisions came despite arguments from councillors,
including Cr David Benson-Pope, who said the appeal's request
was ''conservative and reasonable'' and would align with a
range of council activity areas.
''It's hard to look at the five themes of the appeal ... and
not see direct alignment with pretty much everything we do,''
Deputy mayor Chris Staynes agreed, saying the potential risks
the appeal wanted studied in more detail - those to business
continuity, economic security, energy security, climate and
ecological security and genuine wellbeing - were also issues
for the council.
''If that is done by Government, it will undoubtedly help
council,'' he said.
Others disagreed, including Cr Lee Vandervis, who said he was
''reasonably happy'' with the appeal's contents but worried
the council's signature would encourage more political
lobbying of the council by other groups.
''If we essentially pander to this new political lobbying ...
I think that we are heading into dangerous territory.''
Councillors were divided over whether support for the appeal
would move them into party political territory, with Cr Kate
Wilson arguing the appeal was not political and sought only
to look ''holistically'' at challenges.
''I honestly can't understand why understanding those risks,
in a preferably non-political way, is difficult for ...
everyone to want to do.''
However, Cr Andrew Noone said he took the ''complete
opposite'' view, saying the appeal was ''clearly suggesting
that the political party in control at the moment has got it
The appeal has been endorsed by Labour, Green and New Zealand
First MPs, but not members of the Government, and Cr Noone
said he felt ''we are perhaps being used as a vehicle to
strengthen the argument''.
Mayor Dave Cull denied it was a politically motivated appeal,
saying it was not a statement of position but simply a
request for an investigation.
The information that would flow from acting on the appeal
could allay fears, or not, but if it was ignored ''then we
don't know the answer''.
Mr Cull said the issues it sought to address were also of
relevance to the council, but he resented the fact the
Government was leaving issues of national importance to
councils to consider.
Crs Benson-Pope, Aaron Hawkins, Staynes and Wilson and Mr
Cull voted to sign the appeal, but were defeated by Crs John
Bezett, Doug Hall, Noone, Andrew Whiley, Hilary Calvert, Mike
Lord and Vandervis.
Councillors then voted to note the report, including Cr
Staynes, who nevertheless said the decision was ''not
''It's not ideal for people to recognise that there are risks
and then choose to do nothing about it,'' he said.