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The mayor had sought to avoid taking a strong stance against a key element of the Government’s controversial Three Waters reforms, city councillor Jim O’Malley said.
Cr O’Malley was incensed by what he saw as the mayor’s failure to seriously challenge the Government’s drive to create water entities that would take over responsibilities from councils.
The senior councillor’s frustration has grown in the past year and he seemed to take issue with flippant snippets Mr Hawkins sometimes offered at meetings.
"I am making a stand against poor leadership characterised by ... sarcasm worthy of the worst school-age child," Cr O’Malley said.
"There are those who will say that councillors should not be fighting.
Cr O’Malley said he did not intend to seek the mayoralty.
Mr Hawkins said he had been consistent in representing council positions as mayor.
"It is worth other elected members considering whether they have done the same," Mr Hawkins said.
Mr Hawkins had called for councils and communities to be able to properly consider the effect of reform and he said the Government had provided assurances councils would be allowed to choose to opt in or out.
"I’m extremely disappointed that those pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and that the decision has been taken away from us, but I see little value in continuing to holler into the void."
Otago Regional Council chairman Andrew Noone added to criticism of Mr Hawkins by singling him out as an obstacle to the two councils agreeing on joint governance for a programme aimed at making South Dunedin more resilient.
Mr Hawkins said it was a bottom line for the city council, not just him, that "decision-making on issues under our delegation sits solely with us".
Cr O’Malley’s comments followed a chaotic conclusion to a council meeting this week, when councillors tried to sum up how angry they were about the Government forcing councils to participate in the reform of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.
The disappointment conveyed in a notice of motion Mr Hawkins put before councillors was deemed by some to be insufficient.
Councillors voted down three out of his four points and endorsed part of an alternative notice of motion from Cr O’Malley that called for a reset of the reform programme and affirmed lack of support for the water entities.
Cr O’Malley was miffed the mayor had produced a notice when the councillor had made it obvious at a previous meeting one was coming from him.
"My only interpretation as to why the mayor had put his notice of motion up was that he intended to stamp his authority as the only spokesperson for the council," Cr O’Malley said.
Mr Hawkins said he offered Cr O’Malley the chance to find common ground between the notices, but this was not taken up.
In a lengthy account provided to the Otago Daily Times, Cr O’Malley laid out concerns about how he believed the mayor had shown he was of a mind to accept the Government’s planned water entities without pushback.
He presented the mayor as a leader "trying his best not to act".
Mr Hawkins said lack of information about the Government’s proposal had worried him initially, which had made it difficult for councils to express informed views.
He pledged to continue to "work constructively with government, iwi and others to ensure our concerns about the system design are heard in Wellington."