Advert complaint: ‘God isn’t cool’
An atheist resident who believes it is not ‘‘cool to mention God’’ has failed to prevent Hastings District Council from doing so.
P Fleming, of Hastings, was upset that a radio advertisement by the council ended with the words ‘‘God bless’’.
The advertisement advised residents that the council wanted their input on a proposal to reduce the speed limits on various roads in the district.
It was read by councillor Henare O’Keefe, and ended with him saying: ‘‘The Hastings District Council really appreciates your feedback. Many thanks, and God bless.’’
Fleming, whose first name and gender were not identified, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority.
‘‘I thought the ad was really good until that last part,’’ Fleming told the authority.
‘‘It’s not really appropriate or cool to mention God. I mean, most Kiwis don’t believe in religion any more. So whoever’s dumb idea it was to get Christian on us should leave their Bible-bashing to church.’’
In a recently released finding, the authority found there were no grounds to proceed with the com- plaint.
It said the advertisement was an advocacy message, ‘‘addressing the important issue of road safety and speed limits’’. The ‘‘God bless’’ expression was incidental to the message being conveyed by O’Keefe, and was ‘‘his natural way of speaking, rather than any religious message’’.
‘‘While acknowledging the offence caused to the complainant ... the advertisement was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence,’’ it said.
The council will hold a hearing on the speed limit proposals in May. Nature works in mysterious and sometimes malodorous ways, a Hawke’s Bay town is finding.
Waipukurau created an anaerobic pond last year at its wastewater treatment plant. It is entirely enclosed by a cover, to exclude oxygen and light so sewage can be broken down biologically.
It’s working so well that a large, smelly bubble of gas built up, forcing Central Hawke’s Bay District Council to let some of it out this week.
That reduced the bubble to about a quarter of its size – but led some neighbours to complain about the smell.
‘‘Temporarily, until a final solution is implemented to control the gas, some odour may arise,’’ the council said.
The growth of the gas bubble was a sign that bacteria in the pond were working as they should, chief executive Monique Davidson said.
However, the pond’s built-in vents had proven ineffective.
‘‘Over the past month, council have physically restrained growth of the gas pocket by further securing the pond cover and forcing gas through vents. This is not considered a long-term effective solution.’’
The bubble did not pose a health and safety risk, but she was concerned that, if it continued to grow, ‘‘in an extreme wind event the cover could be torn from the pond’’.
‘‘This would cause significant and costly damage to infrastructure, and could cause potential harm to anyone on-site.’’
Industrial extraction fans would be installed as a permanent solution, but these would not be completed for about a month.
The odour from the bubble was ‘‘only detectable as it escapes through vents’’, Davidson said.
Last year, a report revealed fixing both the plant, and another at Waipawa, could cost ratepayers between $11.9 million and $36m. A plan to solve the gas buildup will be put before the council next month.
The advert was voiced by councillor Henare O’Keefe. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that ‘‘God bless’’ was just his natural way of speaking, rather than a religious message.