Election choices

Graham Adams is chair of the Ratepayers' Association. He is also treasurer (and newsletter editor) of Grey Power Wanganui.

I was a bit shocked recently to see several of his anointed candidates (for mayor and council and DIstrict Health Board ) profiled in the Grey Power magazine.

The article emphasised that all contributors were Grey Power members who had been invited to submit information.

The overall impression, however, was of a rather conservative bunch of old white males. From memory, three female candidates were profiled.


I expect more objectivity from Grey Power and would have liked to have heard from a broader range of candidates on a range of topics pertinent to interests of older voters.

In yesterday's Chronicle, Graham promoted a similar list under the banner of the Ratepayers' Association -- all worthy and hardworking, but once again, not representative.

I'm hopeful that Helen Craig, Jenny Duncan and Philippa Baker Hogan are returned to council.

All do their homework and, unlike some councillors, they do turn up and do the hard yards, as well as connecting with the community and speaking out on issues they feel strongly about.

I agree that Hamish McDouall would make a good mayor.

Rob Vinsen has made a valuable contribution finding solutions for dealing with the serious waste issues.

Representing younger voters, Hadleigh Reid and Josh Chandulal McKay are obvious choices. It is a shame that William Osborne didn't put his name forward for council as well as the mayoralty.

I think overall, though, that the first-past-the post voting system used is outmoded.

It is long past time for a return to the ward system, as advocated by Hamish McDouall.�Abridged


Offset costs

Prior to the release of the Domm report into the wastewater treatment plant, I asked chief executive Kym Fell to confirm no legal opinion was needed on its contents that may give rise to a challenge to council.

Mr Fell replied: "Correct -- council does not need legal advice, this is Mr Domm's report."

I was concerned that Mr Domm went as far as to say: "The crude, low-cost and low-technology design proved to be a false economy which ultimately cost Whanganui ratepayers $27 million."

Yet on page 102 of his report he says: "$27.1 million would be partially offset by certain elements of the failed plant being able to be utilised in the construction and operation of the new plant.

"This would include matters such as the land ... at Airport Rd, basic power infrastructure to the site, the pipeline under the Whanganui River from the Beach Rd pump station, roads and security infrastructure, elements of the aerated lagoon and settling pond etc."

When Mr Fell was quoted in the Chronicle on September 21 saying: " ... mistakes that have cost the community $27 million", and the mayor had an "open letter to the people of Whanganui" saying: " ... cost our district more then $27 million", this becomes the council's opinion, not just Mr Domm's.

The "partially offset" costs Mr Domm mentions are substantial and the best guess of experts that they amount to between $10 million and $12 million.

So, more accurately, the old MWH plant cost the ratepayers between $15 million and $17 million -- nowhere near the $27 million being thrown about by our chief executive and mayor.

With Mr Fell reporting that he had just signed the $42.1 million contract with Hawkins for the new plant, I asked him to clarify the "partially offset" costs that will be used in this new plant so as to factually inform the community of the real cost of the MWH failure.

Mr Fell sent a email to councillors telling us that any request for information in the election period would be treated like an Official Information Request (LGOIMA), which gives council 21 working days to answer -- that is, post-election.

As the election period officially started on July 8 and councillors have had many requests since, I found this late notification bemusing.

Mr Fell has come into a big job. I've been impressed with his "front the issue" attitude to now, but being "sloppy" with about $10 million to $12 million of ratepayer money is not acceptable and tantamount to scaremongering.

Whanganui District Councillor

Philippa Baker-Hogan is standing for council at the October local body election.

Poll position

Last Saturday's (September 17) "Secret Diary" stoops to a low level when Steve Braunias satirises about a fictional wine binge by Andrew Little due to supposed "low poll" ratings by the Colmar Brunton One News poll.

No matter that, according to published research, the Colmar Brunton poll "provides consistently and significantly higher estimates of the National Party's support than either of the other two polls ... the difference once reaching as high as 9.5 per cent".

Meanwhile the UMR poll, maligned by the media as "Labour's poll" showed National's support falling rapidly.

Major media steered the public towards a Key re-election two years ago. The Watergate level "Dirty Politics" and spy scandals were just sideshows that the media swept under the rug.

And now we have fictional wine again in Braunias' hit job. What irony. The last election reached its low point then with another bottle of wine -- the infamous "$100,000 on a bottle of wine". It was floated as a bribe to the Labour Party before the last election. It turned out to be entirely fabricated by Donghua Liu. Along with a banal 11-year-old letter written by then-Labour leader David Cunliffe, it was splashed across all media in May-June 2014.

In May, when Liu wrote the letter, Labour and the Greens had moved ahead of the National coalition in a Roy Morgan poll.

The rest is history -- the erosion of housing, the environment, health and education while the rich run laughing.�Abridged