Groups call for ORC to get on with job

Marian Hobbs. Photo: supplied
Marian Hobbs. Photo: supplied
Leaders of organisations that deal with the Otago Regional Council say they want councillors to get on with the job of governing.

A meeting to determine whether Marian Hobbs should stay on as chairwoman will not be held until July 8.

Nine councillors want her removed from the role.

Ms Hobbs has said she will not stand aside before the meeting.

Representatives from a range of organisations say their focus is on getting results and the council needs to be effective and move forward.

Wise Response secretary Dugald MacTavish said yesterday the council had big issues it needed to grapple with and time was pressing.

"Water quality in Otago is far from satisfactory," he said.

"We want sustainable outcomes for our rivers.

"It seemed as if the council was getting on and trying to address those."

Federated Farmers Otago president Simon Davies said governance at the council was lacking.

He was not greatly interested in who chaired the council but said it should be Otago-led and the leader should "follow the views of the majority".

Mr Davies said accusations from Ms Hobbs against Federated Farmers were unhelpful when the organisation had showed it wanted to be part of practical solutions.

Otago Fish & Game chief executive Ian Hadland said it was crucial the council maintained its focus on sorting out water permits.

Ms Hobbs’ efforts in working with the wider Otago community had been noticed.

"Under her leadership, the council had finally started to address systemic policy failings that had been ignored for years," he said.

A spokesman for Environment Minister David Parker said he was sufficiently concerned about the Otago Regional Council last year to appoint Judge Peter Skelton to look into whether it was adequately carrying out its duties concerning freshwater management and allocation of resources.

However, Ms Hobbs’ suggestion this year that Mr Parker might bring in a commissioner for Otago was a major factor leading to the call for her to be removed as chairwoman.

She has been criticised for being too allied to the Government’s agenda.

Former deputy chairwoman Gretchen Robertson issued a statement yesterday, arguing councillors were not at war.

"We must pull together and get on with implementing key work for the good of our environment and people," the statement read.

"Sustained change doesn’t happen unless people want to change and see the value in doing so.

"We all care about Marian but it’s not about us individually or about taking sides."



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The majority of the councillors are farmers or have rural interests. Federated Farmers know it they do not undermine and get rid of Hobbs she will eventually end up costing farmers and rural water takers a lot of money. Make no mistake this is a battle for the health of our rivers, wetlands and lakes. It is ironic that in the local elections we voted in a Green Party Mayor to look after the city interests and then voted in a whole bunch of farmers to protect our environment! This would be like voting in a vegan to run Fish and Game! Personally I do hope the government steps in and gets rid of the whole lot of them.

You state: "The majority of the councillors are farmers or have rural interests." So what? You keep going back to: "Hobbs was democratically elected." Guess what? So were the other councillors. You imply that a "majority of the councillors" are acting in their own interests. Where is the proof? You imply the "Federated Farmers" are corrupt and acting in their own interests. Again, where is the proof? You've impugned the honesty and integrity of the ORC councillors and every member of the Federated Farmers without providing a single shred of evidence. Where is your evidence supporting your allegations? Yes, this is a battle for the health of our rivers, wetlands and lakes; nobody disputes that! The issue is the most competent, professional and cost-effective way forward. STOP referring to the local elections as a VOTE. A VOTE is a formal expression of individuals wish or choice with regard to A proposal or A candidate. STV is very complicated, confusing, prone to errors and delay, and not truly proportional, and that it reduces local accountability, increases party control, and allows special interests to dominate party nominations. DCC is the perfect example, Hawkins in particular.

I didn't write or imply most of the things you have written and I apologise if my grammar is not right. Federated Farmers represent the interests of their members and the councillors represent their communities, voters and themselves. Unfortunately for our environment, it is not in the interest of the majority of councillors to support having a strong policy to protect our waterways. Hobbs is in the minority and has, from what I can gather, acted in a bloody-minded manner.
Like you, I am not a fan of the voting system. In fact, I am not a fan of the whole system and would like a complete overhaul of our local government - but of course that is just my opinion. I am sure all those elected are acting in what they believe is in the best interests of who they represent, just like those who went before them. Now calm down and go and make yourself a cuppa.

I agree with you Pat! Too much pressure from powerful lobby groups wanting to "utilise" our rivers, wetlands and nature for personal/business profit.
Hobbs is their enemy number one, it seems.
Personall profit at the expense of public/natural loss. Personal "freedom" to profit but natural world suffers. Oh for the days when kids could swim in all of our rivers, dogs could paddle without getting poisoned, and the wetlands were healthy. ORC councillors please focus on protecting our environment, for us to pass to our children. Be on the right side of history.

Yes, I agree, our waterways aren't great. But where do you think your food comes from? FARMERS. Look, any business can appear to be greedy. And in the past, that greed motivated many to go farming and convert land use. However, we're all a bit wiser to that now, and so are the farmers. The vast majority I would suspect are keen to reduce the environmental impact. However, the very reason there is demand, is because we need to eat. And that is where our food comes from... the farms. The world isn't perfect, but it is certainly becoming very populous. Maybe time to limit childbirth? Maybe if we feel so 'OUTRAGED' by the environmental damage, we address the REAL cause of the damage - over population. Now there's a contentious topic... stop having so many babies! Yeah, right... lol

Watch Gretchen Robertson- and her public statement.

The STV system is fundamentally flawed and all you need do is look at the election results for DCC and see the disfunction Hawkins election has caused for the city. ORC didn’t use STV. You don’t like what’s happening to Hobbs. New Zealand has no mechanisms in place to vote a politician like Hobbs out of office using a recall vote. I personally think the system is designed that way on purpose. Change the system and allow the voters to initiate a recall election for politicians. The ORC councilors are using the mechanism in place to give Hobbs the boot. Hobbs knows the rules. As the chair, she has no relationship with the other councilors. She created the situation and has done nothing to correct it. The Chair of the ORC needs to establish and maintain a relationship with councilors to get things done. Otherwise, nothings gets done which is what was occuring. She put the councilors in a position where they had to act in the best interest of the voters. The councilors are following the perscribed procedure to remove Hobbs. Dont like it? Change the process and implement a process for recall voting. What you are doing is wrong! Your making allegations that cant be supported!

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