Coun­cil­lors cause stir with lobby group


‘‘I en­cour­age the lobby group to have a good hard think about what best achieves con­struc­tive out­comes.’’

Three Otago re­gional coun­cil­lors who have formed a ‘‘Dun­stan Lobby’’ have been ac­cused of ‘‘jump­ing on the horse, claim­ing to be the jockey’’.

Newly elected coun­cil­lors Dr Mag­gie Law­ton, of Wanaka and Michael Laws, of Cromwell, as well as sec­ond-term coun­cil­lor Graeme Bell, of Alexan­dra have formed the Dun­stan Lobby to ‘‘com­bine ef­fec­tive ac­tion’’ for their 55,000 con­stituents.

Otago Re­gional Coun­cil deputy chair Gretchen Robert­son said coun­cil­lors were not told the Dun­stan Lobby was go­ing to be formed, and while she sup­ported con­struc­tive en­gage­ment with com­mu­ni­ties, she did not sup­port cre­at­ing di­vi­sion through lob­by­ist be­hav­iours.

‘‘The ORC was on a path­way to chang­ing the way we do things al­ready, the Dun­stan Lobby seems to have jumped on the horse and is claim­ing to be the jockey. I en­cour­age the lobby group to have a good hard think about what best achieves con­struc­tive out­comes. Our ears are al­ways open to emails or phone calls too and we en­cour­age the pub­lic to con­tact us if they have an is­sue they wish to dis­cuss at any time. We have many more struc­tured op­por­tu­ni­ties for Dun­stan com­mu­ni­ties to en­gage in con­sul­ta­tion of a wide ar­ray of top­ics over the next cou­ple of years too. Pests, bio­di­ver­sity, river flows, ur­ban wa­ter dis­char- ges and pub­lic trans­port will be among the top­ics. Broad con­sul­ta­tion oc­curs each an­nual plan­ning cy­cle too.’’

The Cen­tral Otago and Queen­stown Lakes Dis­tricts were two of the ORC’s five dis­tricts and for Otago to be suc­cess­ful ORC needed to serve them all, she said.

Chair­man Stephen Wood­head said re­gional coun­cil­lors did not rep­re­sent in­di­vid­ual con­stituen­cies, they were elected to gov­ern the ORC.

‘‘It is struc­tured that we get rep­re­sen­ta­tion from around the re­gion but then once you are elected you sign an oath that you will faith­fully and im­par­tially, and ac­cord­ing to the best ... skill and judge­ment, ex­e­cute and per­form, in the best in­ter­ests of the Otago re­gion. There will be times you make a de­ci­sion that may not be the best de­ci­sion for your con­stituency but it is the best de­ci­sion for Otago.’’


The Otago Re­gional Coun­cil­lors.

Gretchen Robert­son

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