Councillors vote not to replace Hobbs, salary redistributed

Marian Hobbs. Photo: supplied
Marian Hobbs
A Green Party candidate got a look, but departed councillor Marian Hobbs will not be replaced at the Otago Regional Council before the next election.

Councillors voted 7-4 against inviting environmental consultant Scott Willis to replace the former firebrand councillor, Ms Hobbs, at the council table.

Ms Hobbs received 16,961 votes in the 2019 election, but she resigned at the start of this month after ending up on the losing side of a vote over water rights — this time over low-flow settings for the Manuherikia River.

Ms Hobbs said she would resign from the council if Environment Minister David Parker did not replace the entire council with commissioners after the decision.

Because her resignation on November 1 took place within 12 months of the next local body election on October 8 next year, a by-election was not triggered by her departure.

Cr Bryan Scott said the next-highest-polling candidate in the Dunedin constituency at the last election — Mr Willis — should be invited to join the council table.

"In my view the Dunedin constituency is due six seats, and to operate with five is not representative or fair," Cr Scott said at this week’s council meeting.

In the 2019 election, Mr Willis (10,872 votes) finished seventh, behind Cr Michael Deaker (12,553) in the Dunedin constituency.

Mr Willis’ name was put forward and received support from Crs Deaker, Scott, Alexa Forbes and Gretchen Robertson.

Crs Hilary Calvert, Carmen Hope, Michael Laws, Gary Kelliher, Kevin Malcolm and Kate Wilson and council chairman Andrew Noone voted against.

Mr Willis was the only replacement considered.

Cr Laws has been voted in to replace Ms Hobbs as co-chairman of the council’s data and information committee.

Cr Calvert replaced Ms Hobbs on the chief executive performance review committee.

Ms Hobbs’ remaining annual salary of $62,000 was divided evenly between the remaining 10 councillors, excluding Mr Noone.

Councillors also recorded their thanks to Ms Hobbs for her service to Otago.


'Ms Hobbs’ remaining annual salary of $62,000 was divided evenly between the remaining 10 councillors, excluding Mr Noone.' Surely if the councillors who voted to not replace Ms. Hobbs had a pecuniary interest in doing so they should have declared self interest and withdraw from the vote. The ORC is corrupt from the top down.

Are they all doing extra work now? what a complete disgrace this lot are!!!!!

These people have no interest whatsoever in the public good. Just rampant greed!

Very strange thing to do. It's not like we are going to get more work out of any of them. Maybe the thought process is one less person to screw things up? Nepotism at its best!