After a balmy winter and spectacular Northland flower show this spring (kowhai & clematis, peaches & plums), things are looking good on the farm.
The sun is shining, the soil and bush still moist after the recent rain. Local farmers have their fingers crossed for a kind growing season.
The icing on the cake - Northland Regional Council has reinstated the strong precautionary GE policy in the new Northland Regional Policy Statement.
- Whangarei District Council voted unanimously last month to proceed with a collaborative plan change (with FNDC and Auckland Council) to ban all GMO releases and make EPA-approved outdoor GE experiments a discretionary activity subject to additional stringent local requirements.
- A fabulous new female mayor for Whangarei, wisely committed to truly sustainable economic development, environmental protection and reducing council debt.
WDC now has far better gender balance with seven females on deck, plus the pleasing prospect of a more accessible mayoral office on the ground floor of Forum North.
Sheryl and the other successful Northland political candidates are well placed to work together collaboratively on a range of important issues, including defending our patch from the National Party plans to strip local authorities of their existing right to set protections on genetically modified organisms (GMO) releases and hazardous substances under the Resource Management Act.
It is gratifying to hear the stance new Far North Mayor John Carter has taken on this matter.
Addressing voters in Kerikeri before the recent election, he stated:
"I absolutely oppose what the Government is suggesting - to take away the right of the local community to decide on what happens with GE - and, if I'm fortunate enough to be elected as mayor, I intend to take that battle down to the Parliament to Amy Adams and say 'not good enough'. It's our right to decide what happens in our district, not theirs."
What's at stake is protecting the ability of the people we elect every three years (who know our patch and are accountable to us), to make decisions in keeping with the needs of local ratepayers and sound policies set down in long-term plans.