This is awkward. One of the councillors who consistently votes for the Ruataniwha dam has had a serious and undeclared conflict of interest over it for at least six months:
It’s been revealed that a Hawke’s Bay Regional councillor could stand to make money if the Council approves a controversial and polluting dam that’s set to cost close to $1 billion.
The councillor, Deborah Hewitt, owns a property that falls within the proposed area to be supplied with water from the planned Ruataniwha Dam. The land value of those within this irrigation zone is expected to increase if construction of the dam goes ahead.
It’s understood Hewitt began the process of declaring the conflict of interest yesterday, a day after Greenpeace New Zealand and more than a dozen others requested an official inquiry into the issue following information obtained under the Official Information Act.
“It’s uncanny timing that the council has only acknowledged this conflict of interest after people started making noise about it. It begs the question, if it wasn’t for public pressure, would it have been declared?”
I think the answer to that is pretty obvious.
This is simply corrupt. There is no other word for it. It is also illegal. Section 6 of the Local Authorities (Members' Interests) Act 1968 bars locla authority members from voting on or participating in discussion of matters in which they have a pecuniary interest, on pain of being unseated. Councillor Hewitt appears to have done this consistently. She needs to be prosecuted for it.