Labour backs buy-in inquiry

By Sophie Price

1 comment
The Labour Party has backed four regional councillors in their bid for the Auditor-General to investigate the $43.1 million-dollar buy-in to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.
The Labour Party has backed four regional councillors in their bid for the Auditor-General to investigate the $43.1 million-dollar buy-in to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

The Labour Party has thrown its weight behind four regional councillors who called for the Auditor-General to investigate the $43.1 million-dollar buy-in to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Last week councillors Rick Barker, Rex Graham, Tom Belford and Peter Beavan wrote to the Office of the Auditor-General to investigate the "provisional decision" made by the regional council to enter into a 35-year water user contract with Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company.

"The council's 'provisional decision' to commit so much ratepayers' money without any public consultation is a very serious matter," Labour's MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Meka Whaitiri, said.

"Despite a litany of questionable decisions over Ruataniwha, we have seen no leadership from the National government.

Ms Whaitiri said Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga had kept silent.
"I believe the Auditor-General [Lyn Provost] is best placed to shed some light on how the council is spending the public purse," she said.

"Hawke's Bay ratepayers deserve transparency on how decisions to spend $40 million of their money are being made."

In their letter, the councillors said that, while there was nothing seemingly controversial on the surface of the decision, there were many issues with the proposal as it stood.

They claimed it could see a 5 per cent rating increase imposed on constituents for 25 years.

Regional council chairman Fenton Wilson said a "provisional decision" was made with five councillors - himself, Alan Dick, Debbie Hewitt, Dave Pipe and Christine Scott - voting on entering the region into a 35-year water user agreement, subject to the scheme proceeding.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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