Public distrust

In your readers' opinions and social media, I see expressions of distrust of our district council.

These commentators are clearly dissatisfied with council's political behaviour. The process involved in the final decision to proceed with the signing of the wastewater treatment plant contract, publicly ratified last Tuesday, exacerbated this distrust.

This decision should have been openly debated in public. Instead, council met behind closed doors the day before, debated the issue, and by a show of hands overwhelmingly decided the outcome. Public interest was then seen to be best served by proceeding to a public meeting the next day to formally vote on the matter. The decision there was by a clear majority in front of the public and the media.


But the manner in which this all took place left onlookers bemused, to say the least (some were angered). The public and media had been excluded from the definitive debate on the most important decision of the past three council terms.

It was clear that either the decision had been made already, or that every elected person speaking had pre-determined their vote -- neither a proper nor a good look. In fact, this sop to the public was a demonstration of the political equivalent of a kangaroo court.

By this stage of the decision process it was hard to imagine why councillors could not have received all the information they needed and debated the matter in a forum open to the media and citizens.

Democracy is poorly served when our governance is not open and transparent. This is what leads to distrust. This needs to change.


Alan Taylor is a mayoral and council candidate in the October elections.

'H' debate

Recently a contender for the council brought forth an issue that should never have been an issue in the first place.

The opening line "Whanganui District Council candidate Ian Brougham wants to scrap 'preferential treatment' for Maori, (Chronicle, August 13) made him stand out as someone who wants to segregate our district once again.

He mentions that "Whanganui" isn't a Maori word. If he truly believes this, I would challenge him for the definition of Wanganui and ask him where he believes this word originates from. Also, I ask for his evidence. I challenge you, Mr Brougham, to build your case.

If Whanganui isn't a Maori word, then I struggle to understand how the name of Wellington's harbour is "Te Whanganui a-tara", this meaning "the great harbour of Tara". If Whanganui iwi tell us that Whanganui means "big harbour" or "great harbour," then who are we to say that it doesn't when evidence clearly shows the use of "Whanganui" elsewhere? This seems as basic as hitting the hammer on a nail.

But this is what I would propose to Mr Brougham: I'll move into your house, tell you that you're spelling your name wrong and then force you into living how I believe you should and tell you how to spell your own words. Actually, I wouldn't do that, because I don't have a right to tell you how to spell your name.

We, as constituents, should never have had a referendum in the first place. Wanganui's correct spelling is Whanganui. You can either choose to accept this or learn to tolerate it. We must respect the Maori language, just as we expect the Wanganui Chronicle to respect the English language. You have learned to spell English correctly and I encourage you learn to spell Maori words correctly also.

Please accept this as "forthright" rather than "aggressive".

On a final budget note, I cannot believe your first point of order as a potential elected official is to spend more money on something that has already been decided on -- especially after we've just confirmed a $41m spend. As stated previously, this should never have been a referendum topic.



Craig Paynter of the Labour Party finds grist to his mill in the inequality Labour talks about, and in fact relies upon, for re-election.

People working with socio-economically disadvantaged families openly admit that the prime reason New Zealand has child poverty is the poor decision-making of the parents concerned -- let alone the fact that Labour/Green policy for benefit payments sees too many families using production of children as the main income stream of the household. Sadly, the consequences for many neglected children regularly make our 6 pm news.

You will never see Labour provide the tools to help these people raise their long-term prospects.

Labour will rent them a state house but never help them buy it. They prefer a captive, dependent constituency.

Anyone who thinks John Key and his team have been sitting on their hands during the last difficult eight years in areas such as job creation, trade, housing, interest rates, infrastructure, education and looking after the vulnerable, has been paying too much attention to Labour/Green propaganda.

National has provided stable conditions for people to get ahead socio-economically.

Even a cursory perusal of the traditional values integral to National illuminates the path to modest financial independence and self-respect.

Policy chair, National Party Whanganui Electorate

What progress?

Mr Fell, in his letter of August 15, called for progress. I am sure we all want that, but the question is: In what form?

Building a sewage plant costing $42 million is not progress if we don't need to spend that much, and we cripple the remaining city ratepayers for a generation, after the wet industries have all left or done their own thing.

Before any new contract is signed, the following must happen:

1. The effluent loads of the various contributing companies and the residents must be ascertained.

2. A new design prepared and costed.

3. The wet industries must be told what their costs are going to be, and made to sign contracts.

4. A new tender for construction opened and all bids seriously considered, including offers of a public-private partnership.

5. Leave this process to a new fresh set of councillors.

My very concerned informants last Friday told me, and I quote their words, "Any new plant now must have a complete peer review by a consultant with an ability to provide a multi-disciplinary set of experience and knowledge in these specific engineering areas".


David Bennett is standing for the Whanganui District Council in October.