Hawke's Bay has just two short weeks left to protect 100 per cent local ownership of our regionally-owned asset Napier Port.
The people of Hawke's Bay deserve a win-win solution that grows our port and in return delivers full benefit back to Hawke's Bay residents and ratepayers – not outside interests.
Many have asked where I stand personally and have challenged me to put up an alternative to Rex Graham's IPO sales pitch.
My position is the same as it was a year ago when I put forward a solution that I believe warrants serious investigation.
I have always supported investment in Napier Port to grow and service our region and I will do all I can to protect Hawke's Bay's ownership and control of our prized regional asset. I also fully support a people's vote on the future of our port because I back Hawke's Bay to make the right decision for our region.
Hawke's Bay has two 100% per cent locally owned assets, two jewels in our crown – Napier Port and Unison Networks.
About a year ago, I first mooted that our fully consumer-owned company Unison, which belongs to all the people connected to its Hawke's Bay network, should power up Napier Port.
I believe Unison is in an ideal position to invest in our port and we should be crunching the numbers now - at 25, 33 and up to a 49 per cent shareholding, along with the net effect this would have both on rates and rebate returns. This information should be made available to the public under urgency.
As the owners of both Unison and Napier Port, we have a real opportunity to gain and grow more, not less from our two greatest regional assets.
Unison is a solid, proven performer and local employer, with a strong balance sheet, returning record profits and increasing dividends.
Our network company is also a core infrastructure provider, that is customer focused and servicing and deliver benefits to our region – like our port.
For me, the decision must be about local ownership and doing all we can protect our port from outside investment watering down community interest.
As our port grows and dividends increase so will the return in our annual dividend back to HB power consumers, as well as HB ratepayers.
Furthermore with Unison, we can also instruct the terms and a watertight deal.
We can have a shareholders' agreement that gives us even greater security and ensures that in the unlikely event we did decide to sell Unison, that our port shares must be offered back to the Regional Council.
Unison also has a positive working relationship with CHB's strong-performing Centralines network , which is another positive long-term benefit for all of Hawke's Bay.
I'm passionate about growing business and having strong regional economic development to ensure we have the infrastructure to export the products we grow from our food and fibre industries to reach our world markets. This is the backbone of our regional economy.
I want to see investment that maximises and enhances our port.
So we, as a region, and our producers are all enabled to reach our full potential by growing, selling and exporting the millions of dollars' worth of premium products to our international customers.
This is Hawke's Bay's livelihood.
We owe it to our forebears and future generations to do far better than what this council under Rex Graham has offered up so far - it's a sell-out deal that will leave us short.
As I said a year ago, while our port should not be for sale, I am prepared to consider looking at an option that would ensure we grow our regional asset where Hawke's Bay reaps the full rewards.
I've had my say, it's now over to you.
Please do put in a submission demand this council delivers a 100 per cent local ownership option that delivers more back to us.
It's time to power up our port in a way that only Hawke's Bay can make possible.