Ad­vert com­plaint: ‘God isn’t cool’

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MARTY SHARPE

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.

PETER MEECHAM/STUFF

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.

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