Cochrane refuses to quit council

With less than an hour until the council-imposed resignation deadline passed, Ken Cochrane yesterday expressed his intention to remain as a Southland Fish & Game councillor.

An extraordinary meeting of council was called over Mr Cochrane’s reference to Department of Conservation staff on a whitebait working group as "chick scientists", whom he believed influenced the group of which he was a member.

On Wednesday, councillors unanimously gave a vote of no-confidence and requested his resignation — they gave him until 4pm yesterday to "reflect".

The council received an email yesterday afternoon from Cr Cochrane that made clear his intention to remain a councillor.

Cr Cochrane confirmed his intention to remain 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."

Council chairman Graeme Watson said after the meeting: “Fish & 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 the comments were "completely bizarre and unacceptable".

The council was made up of volunteers and while the 13 elected councillors were all male, Cr Watson said a few newer councillors were young and that governance training had been organised — something he considered important.

"It’s a lesson for everyone ... If you’re talking to the media or anything, if you’re a voted councillor it’s naive to think you’re not still being associated with that group on any comments you may say."

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage earlier said: "I am aware of the resolution at the meeting of the Southland Fish & Game Council on Wednesday. I am confident that Southland Fish & Game can resolve the issue."

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

The minister has the power to remove council members from office.

laura.smith@alliedpress.co.nz

Comments

Now if Ken had used the word 'thick' instead of 'chick', he might well have got away with it. What a difference one letter can make.

When did opinions, even when controversial and ill-founded, become a sacking matter in NZ?

Don't we have better things to do then bash and elderly man who made a mistake? He apologized and that should be enought. Censure him don't fire him.

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