Meeting called to consider Hobbs’ removal

 Marian Hobbs. Photo: ODT files
Marian Hobbs. Photo: ODT files
Otago Regional Council chairwoman Marian Hobbs is set to face a vote next month to have her ousted from the position.

Nine councillors signed a copy of a letter requesting that a meeting be held on July 8 to discuss her possible removal.

The nine are Crs Hilary Calvert, Kevin Malcolm, Michael Deaker, Andrew Noone, Gretchen Robertson, Carmen Hope, Gary Kelliher, Kate Wilson and Michael Laws, the deputy chairman.

Crs Alexa Forbes and Bryan Scott and Ms Hobbs did not sign it.

The letter was delivered to council chief executive Sarah Gardner yesterday and the council confirmed last night an extraordinary meeting would go ahead on July 8, at 9am.

If Ms Hobbs is deposed, a replacement could be elected by a majority of councillors at that meeting.

The move to oust Ms Hobbs comes amid concerns by some councillors that she is too closely aligned with central government.

However, her supporters have pointed out regional councils are required to be largely in tune with national policy.

Cr Noone visited Ms Hobbs on Sunday morning to ask whether she would consider standing down.

"I was keen to hear where she was at.

It was important to have that discussion."

Ms Hobbs advised she would not step aside.

Cr Kelliher wrote to Ms Hobbs on Sunday, advising that a majority of councillors would seek her removal as chairwoman.

Ms Hobbs’ reply was to the point: "I was elected in public. I want to be de-selected in public."

Ms Hobbs, a former environment minister, was voted in as chairwoman last October.

She defeated former deputy chairwoman Cr Robertson 7-5.

Cr Laws was voted in as deputy after withdrawing from a tilt at becoming chairman.

Cr Scott said yesterday he would want to be convinced that any candidate to replace her would take the organisation forward.

"I need to be reassured that whoever puts their hand up will have a positive environmental vision for our region, and that we get on with it."



View all

One comment was: "With those in power failing us …" and it was about Boris Johnson! Yes, our leaders are weak at the moment but I have hope that the people will demand better and eventually get it. Better leadership I mean.

Unfortunately, in New Zealand, there is no mechanism in place for the public to initiate a recall election of Hobbs. Hobbs knows this and is disingenuous by implying the public should vote her out of office. This is the way democracy works here in New Zealand. To remove Hobbs, the other councilors are required to submit a letter and vote for her removal as chair. It would be more advantageous to voters if ORC and the local government added a provision allowing for the removal of elected officials via petition followed by a special election. This would ensure voters aren't stuck with representatives who are power hungary and ignore their constituency. The situation we now have here in Dunedin with Hobbs and Hawkins. The local election process doesn't work, STV makes the electoral process even more dysfunctional. It's good to see the counselors are moving forward to remove Hobbs as chair. That said, her removal as chair doesn't remove her from the ORC all together which is unfortunate. She will remain on the ORC where she will continue to be a disruptive force and sabatoge the legitimate efforts of the ORC moving forward. Provisions need to be chanaged to oust her from the ORC!

Hobbs is doing herself a great disservice in making this a personal issue. This is a business decision made democratically by the preponderance of the other councilors. It happens thousands of times every day in boardrooms across the globe. The other councilors have an ethical obligation to act if they have lost faith in Hobbs's ability to act in a competent, professional manner. That's what they are doing. The biggest problem here is Hobbs suffers from Empleomania; a mania for holding public office. She needs to get on with her life and let other people with fresh ideas take the reins!

So it seems again the farmers want someone in the chair who will rule their way. Regional Councils are supposed to represent the will of the people, and the majority have said they care for the land, water and sky and want a say in how to protect it. Marian Hobbs does that. We're not so sure about the motives of those who have a conflict of interest ie the farmers.

Hon Stuart that you proping up the failed attempt by Hobbs to seize control of Otago?

Well said Nash. There is a very good chance that very soon we will have a member of Federation Farmers sitting at the head of the councillors table. The Government promised to clean up our waterways, but this can only be achieved with strong policy and enforcement through our regional councils. Unfortunately, the farming/rural community is over-represented on the council and it is in their interest to prevent that from happening.

Yet another article that tells us nothing about why Hobbs should be removed. Why have councillors lost confidence? What has she done, or not done?
For a democracy to work, the public need to be informed. Hobbs has rightly stated she was democratically voted in. Please tell us why then, she should go.
In the mean-time we'll just have to believe the most likely and rumoured answer. Big dollar farming interests have undermined democracy to further their own interests. Tell us councillors, what conversations have you had with farming interests lately? What promises did they make you? Make it clear who's position you're supporting and why.
This way, come next local body elections, we can ensure we vote in those, like Marian, who represent our interests, with the fortitude to resist the minority with money.

Ok, less than 44% of the people eligible to vote actually could be bothered to show up and vote, That said, of those who voted, Hobbs won the election by 266 votes (less than .001%). She received 11% of the vote. Hardly a landslide. If you do a little research, the reasons Hobbs needs to go are detailed in a variety of news articles going back to shortly after she assumed office. There seems to be a couple of constant themes. First, it would appear that Hobbs is very difficult to work for and with. So what you ask? Too much angst, drama, volatile, eruptions, bad-tempers & emotions during meetings prevents things from getting done. More importantly, it cost ratepayers money. Second, seems the other councillors weren't impressed with Hobbs constantly seeking support from her central government friends on issues that should be resolved at the council table. She's trying to do an end-around and leverage previous relationships to force the other councillors to proceed in a manner they deem inappropriate. Do a little research mate! The ORC consists of more than Hobbs for a reason. She doesn't seem to get it! If you've followed this issue, its been ongoing since day 1. Hobbs needs to go!

One wonders how often she has sought to subvert the will of the council and hence the people through backdoor appeals to power. That is a Faustian deal, and not likely the first. There is awakening a large polity of people whom are aware if they leave politics to the activists, we are all heading to Trotsky's collective farms.

Marian Hobbs received 19,000 votes and was the highest polling elected councillor. If commentators are concerned about the electoral system they might also like to consider the fact that some of the rural based councillors now opposing her were elected into office with less than 5,000 votes.

This conflict is between a principled woman trying to ensure that national water policy designed to improve the quality of our degraded rivers is carried out and largely rural aligned councillors who are protecting the bad farming water use practices of the past. There has been a nasty ganging up that Chairwoman Hobbs wants to be brought out in public rather than swept under the carpet. That sounds like a person of courage and a high commitment to public service rather than some out of control egoist.

Disagree with everything you wrote. That said, it doesn't matter because her fate is sealed. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. Nothing you write or I write is going to change the fact she is going to get the boot. Your numbers are wrong too... she got 16,961 votes not 19,000. Nobody elected won with 5000 votes... lowest number of votes for anybody elected was Scott with 13,484 votes. Get your numbers right mate!

View all