Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nick Smith strikes again!

Last week, the government finally published guidance to councils on sea-level rise that National had been sitting on for a year. Over on Newsroom, Eloise Gibson explores the reasons for that delay. And it basicly boils down to Nick Smith being obstructive, as usual:

Documents from this period show staff were worried about the reputational risk to ministers from not releasing the guidance in 2016, as they had promised to do. The new plan was to publish it on about February 25, 2017, perhaps at an event “related to the Kaikoura earthquake recovery” or at the BlueGreens conference.

By March, though, it was clear that Smith was worried about the economic implications, including costs to property owners if insurance or value was affected. He decided, over strenuous objections from his ministry, that the guidance needed to go through Cabinet. On March 15, the Ministry’s climate change director Roger Lincoln wrote a strongly-worded briefing to Bennett and Smith, noting that taking the guidance to Cabinet would “delay it several months at least”.

Of course, it took much longer than that, because Smith then refused to take the paper to Cabinet. In the meantime, residents groups worried that their property values would suffer if potential buyers knew the real risk of their property flooding lobbied hard, and managed to get a further delay for yet another round of consultation (they had already been consulted twice). Of course, consultation requires Cabinet approval, and Smith didn't bother asking for that - in effect, burying the entire proposal. And in the meantime, councils screamed for guidance, while approving developments that should never have been approved, because they didn't have something official they could point to to justify saying "no". And the developers laughed all the way to the bank, having offloaded their risk on others, who will no doubt then demand compensation from councils when their homes flood in the future...

Pretty obviously, we should present the bill for that to Nick Smith. Because the only reason this stuff was approved was him and his delaying tactics.