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Minister faces questions over dam debacle

Today’s Supreme Court ruling dismissing an appeal to allow a land swap for the controversial Ruataniwha Dam is a victory for our conservation estate and Hawke’s Bay ratepayers, but leaves the Conservation Minister with serious questions to answer, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.

“We are thrilled with the Supreme Court ruling which upholds last year’s Court of Appeal decision, but New Zealanders will be asking how it got this far.

“Conservation Minister Maggie Barry should never have used the public purse to help Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) challenge a major Court of Appeal decision in support of a large scale private irrigation scheme.

“Maggie Barry will try and throw the Director-General of DoC under the bus for this, but make no mistake; this entire dam debacle has been driven by political pressure from the National government all along.

“A Conservation Minister using public resources to encourage greater private access to publicly owned conservation land reveals how arrogant this Government has become after nine years.

“National strongly promotes subsidised water schemes but they lead to polluted rivers, bad investments and white elephants like Ruataniwha.

“Twenty million dollars has already been sunk into this and HBRIC has nothing to show for it.

“It’s the most poorly executed infrastructural project in the history of Hawke’s Bay and the people of this region have been badly let down by its promoters.

“The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have made their decisions, but it’s the court of public opinion Maggie Barry should be worried about now,” says Meka Whaitiri.