'Chick scientists' councillor refuses to resign

Ken Cochrane (L) speaks at the meeting last week.
Ken Cochrane (L) speaks at the meeting last week.
After Southland Fish and Game Council requested the resignation of one of their own, Ken Cochrane has refused to leave following the ‘'sexist'’ comments he made last week.

An extraordinary meeting of council was called for when Mr Cochrane referred to Department of Conservation staff on a Whitebait Working Group as ‘‘chick scientists’’, who he believed influenced the group he was a member of.

Councillors unanimously gave a vote of no confidence and requested his resignation - they gave him until 4pm today to ‘‘reflect’’.

Council chairman Graeme Watson said after the meeting, “Fish and Game is an organisation that takes a science and evidence based approach to all its decisions.

“Scientists who are merely doing their job should not have to put up with such unacceptable comments, and quite frankly, nor should anyone else.”

He said council received an email this afternoon from Cr Cochrane that told of his intention to remain councillor.

Cr Cochrane confirmed his intention to remain councillor but declined to comment on his decision and said, "we've been beaten around the park so we really don't have any comment at this stage."

Southland Fish and Game councillors on Wednesday unanimously gave a vote of no confidence in...
Southland Fish and Game councillors on Wednesday unanimously gave a vote of no confidence in councillor Ken Cochrane. Photo: Laura Smith
Conservation minister Eugenie Sage earlier said ‘‘I am aware of the resolution at the meeting of the Southland Fish and Game Council on Wednesday. I am confident that Southland Fish and Game can resolve the issue.’’

Section 26ZA of the Conservation Act states, ‘‘Any member of a Fish and Game Council may at any time be removed from office by the Minister for bankruptcy, inability to perform the functions of the office, neglect of duty, or misconduct, or a conviction for an offence involving sports fish or game or protected wildlife (being an offence under this Act or any other Act).’’

She had called his comments sexist and patronising, and said that DOC freshwater scientists doing their job, consulting stakeholders on whitebait management, deserved better.

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