While it was heartening to read of Bill Sutton's change of heart towards the HB/Ruataniwha Fresh Water Lake, River Improvement and Economic Development Project, it is too little, too late.
The project struggled before on economics, so it most certainly will now, given the difficulties of achieving an economy of scale for such a substantial piece of infrastructure on a reduced basis.
The key point for Sutton's change seems to be that the people who were going to benefit from it would now have to pay for it all. But he doesn't seem to understand the economic flow-ons to all of Hawke's Bay, most significantly and ironically given his previous roll as MP to the city of Napier being the transport hub and professional services centre for HB as well as the weekend holiday destination for CHBers, and to the protection and sustainability it gives our beautiful Tukituki River.
Why should HB have to force its own entrepreneurs to fork out for big infrastructure that will benefit all (as well as the environment) when, for example, Auckland is granted a staggering $28 billion to develop carbon producing transport infrastructure (train and cars) when Aucklanders could and should be encouraged to bike or walk to work?
Tragically for HB, Bill Sutton, like those others who were and still are in leadership positions such as Rex Graham, Tom Belford and Stuart Nash, simply lacked vision and general leadership ability and chickened out when the going got tough. He and they spewed forth vitriolic and wrongly held views and swayed the less informed good people of HB and are to blame.
These 'leaders' were too content to either potter around in a few wetlands (!) or let government funding all go to other regions such as Jonesland (north of Auckland), or Auckland, or the Pacific Islands.
The lake was a fantastic opportunity to simply give HB wonderful fresh water protection against the increasing environmental vagaries of the future and had a supporting economic model to boot and would have resulted in HB getting a decent step up in economic and social performance.
But now, even under the guidance of these three wise, brave and visionary CHBers who have purchased the intellectual property rights, it will be that much more difficult. It is a sorry state of affairs.