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Minister's response raises more questions

On Friday, last week, the Manawatu Standard said Environment Minister Nick Smith had some explaining to do. Official documents obtained by the newspaper revealed Dr Smith's justification for calling-in the Turitea wind farm application was less than compelling, and at odds with the public explanation he gave in support of his decision. Dr Smith was out of the country last week, but responds to the Standard's coverage in today's edition.

On Friday, last week, the Manawatu Standard said Environment Minister Nick Smith had some explaining to do.

Official documents obtained by the newspaper revealed Dr Smith's justification for calling-in the Turitea wind farm application was less than compelling, and at odds with the public explanation he gave in support of his decision.

Dr Smith was out of the country last week, but responds to the Standard's coverage in today's edition. Far from clearing up the confusion surrounding his decision-making process, however, Dr Smith's response only raises more questions.

He has confirmed he deemed the wind farm proposal to be of national significance because it would help meet New Zealand's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, as the documents published last week suggested.

What is perplexing, and something Dr Smith does not seem able to explain, is why he didn't say that when he made his decision last year.

While many people in Palmerston North, including the city council, opposed the call-in, they would have to concede the Government's commitment to Kyoto was at least a reasonable basis for Dr Smith's decision.

But he didn't say that was the reason,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

On Friday, last week, the Manawatu Standard said Environment Minister Nick Smith had some explaining to do.

Official documents obtained by the newspaper revealed Dr Smith's justification for calling-in the Turitea wind farm application was less than compelling, and at odds with the public explanation he gave in support of his decision.

Dr Smith was out of the country last week, but responds to the Standard's coverage in today's edition. Far from clearing up the confusion surrounding his decision-making process, however, Dr Smith's response only raises more questions.

He has confirmed he deemed the wind farm proposal to be of national significance because it would help meet New Zealand's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, as the documents published last week suggested.

What is perplexing, and something Dr Smith does not seem able to explain, is why he didn't say that when he made his decision last year.

While many people in Palmerston North, including the city council, opposed the call-in, they would have to concede the Government's commitment to Kyoto was at least a reasonable basis for Dr Smith's decision.

But he didn't say that was the reason, and in today's paper he's trying to say he did. The problem he has is that the public statement he released last year was written down in black and white, and most New Zealanders speak English fluently.

The decision was at Dr Smith's discretion, and he was entitled to exercise that discretion as he saw fit, regardless of how many people disagreed. But, as a Minister of the Crown, he needed to explain the reasons for his decision openly and honestly.

He has failed to do so.

Many people in this region have strong feelings, one way or the other, about whether the Turitea wind farm should be built. Whatever the outcome, they must have faith in the decision-making process that precedes it.

Calling in the consent application may well have been the right call. As Dr Smith says, removing the possibility of the matter being dragged through the Environment Court will see the wind farm built sooner, if approved.

But where there should be faith in the decision-making process, there is now only suspicion and cynicism. Many will have difficulty accepting the decision reached by a board of inquiry appointed by Dr Smith when he has been less than candid about why they, and not the council, should make it.

Dr Smith had some explaining to do to the people of this region. He has given an explanation, but it seems little has been explained.

One more thing:

Swine flu is big news at the moment. While the threat the virus poses is concerning, it has been met with skepticism by many people who have seen this movie before and know how it ends. Is this the real thing, or another flu who cried wolf?


Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/mana...

APR 29 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20047-minister-s-response-raises-more-questions
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