Ruataniwha a CCO cautionary tale

Councils awaiting proposed local government reforms will look to the performance of Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) as a cautionary tale of what can go wrong with a council controlled organisation (CCO) left unchecked, says Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.

“The arrogant conduct of HBRIC and its Chief Executive Andrew Newman throughout the Ruataniwha saga should give Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-liga pause for thought before he introduces his reform package.

“The Minister says his reforms will allow councils to establish a wider range of CCOs, yet local authorities are telling me the formation of CCOs won’t solve their problems.

“When you look at the case of HBRIC, which has been allowed to push back the deadline for financial close on Ruataniwha a shocking seven times, which has operated in a secretive manner and with an air of contempt for Hawke’s Bay ratepayers, the perils of vesting too much authority in a CCO are plain to see.

“The release of the Butcher report confirms just how badly HBRIC has managed the Ruataniwha water storage scheme and how they’ve let down ratepayers.

“If the Minister’s reform package is really about delivering ‘better local services’ then he must ensure it includes measures to avoid another disastrous HBRIC-style situation,” says Meka Whaitiri.