REBECCA STEVENSON
Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott says the former MP for Napier is passing the buck as central government has decided Marineland's future is without dolphins.
Napier Labour list MP Russell Fairbrother said last Wednesday it was possible to restock the tourist venue with dolphins but an application had to come from local government. He thought the task was "too big" for local leaders.
Mrs Arnott said Napier City Council had made two applications to import dolphins and were turned down - the last time in 2000.
She said a new application would have the same outcome and would be a waste of time.
"We have got a policy that says we will look for a future for Marineland without dolphins."
The council was working to secure the Napier icon's future which was recognised as an important brand in the city. Ratepayers would continue to pay for Marineland but the council was working to find alternative funding, she said.
It would be months before any possible options were known. Petition organiser Harry Lawson said it was unfair to expect council to make another application after being turned down twice.
"But being a bit superstitious I tend to think third time lucky," Mr Lawson said.
He believed there was more chance of succeeding now there was public backing of the cause.
Mr Lawson said he still had not heard from Mr Fairbrother after he accused him of hijacking the petition last Thursday.
The petition was tabled in parliament on April 4 but Mr Lawson was surprised to find Mr Fairbrother had put his name on it.
"I haven't heard a word and I don't have any expectations as I haven't heard from him in nearly four months," Mr Lawson said.
Mr Fairbrother, meanwhile, denied claims he had snubbed the organisers of the petition.
Since receiving the petition he had been criticised for a "wall of silence" by petition leader Mr Lawson.
Mr Lawson said Mr Fairbrother had promised to keep in touch, updating him on when the petition would be presented to Parliament. But he claimed the MP had failed to reply to repeated e-mails and phone calls.
"I just assume there will be some sort of process now, I can only assume because I have had no communication whatsoever," Mr Lawson said.
Mr Fairbrother was asked last week whether he had been rude and discourteous to Mr Lawson.
"No," he replied. Mr Fairbrother said he had arranged meetings in Napier that had not been attended and that he had met with Mr Lawson several times, and that they had a different interpretation on his behaviour.