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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

REPLY TO GRAHAM HOOPER'S ACCUSATIONS

Oh, please, Graham Hooper! There is not a word of truth in your letter [Gulf News, page 13 of the issue dated the 14th of August 2008]. I most certainly did not promise to lower the rates and stop people building on ridge-lines. That is your invention.

In my election flyer I promised this: 'If you elect me I will defend the island to the hilt, I will give the job 200%, I will not stand for any nonsense, and I will strive not to waste a dollar of your rates.'

In the declaration that I made under statute at my swearing-in I promised to act 'faithfully and impartially... to the best of my skill and judgement... in the best interests of the Waiheke community... according to the Local Government Act 2002 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987...'.

In the LGA2002 there is a process by which New Zealanders can apply to the Local Government Commission to get the best available local government. Thames-Coromandel provides much better local government than Auckland City. That can be proved beyond all doubt. I am therefore keeping my statutory promise.

But I must confess that there is one promise I am not keeping. I am not giving 200%. I am giving far more. My profuse apologies! I'll check into Paremoremo tomorrow.

In future, Graham, stick to the truth. Stop attacking a 'Nobilangelo' of your own making. He is not me, and never will be.

And, please, stop being wilfully blind to the best and supporting the worst.

Finally, to you, Graham, and to all those who say that I should have stood for the election on a plank of going in with Thames-Coromandel, I would say first that no one knows in advance all that he will do or might do, so it is ridiculous to expect me to. It is true that I had thought of Thames-Coromandel early in 2007, because it seemed on the face of it a nice idea, but it was not till after the election that I thought of actually trying it (on November the 5th to be precise) and even then I did not know it was possible, because I, like everyone else on the island, thought a referendum was needed. I did not know that buried way down in Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002 was the simple process by which a potential move could be initiated--i.e., that an application could be made to the Local Government Commission to swap councils if a petition from at least 10% of registered electors could be gathered.

That I did not find out till Philippa Barriball, the mayor of Thames-Coromandel, wanted me to find out the legal mechanics of a move and referred me to the CEO of Local Government New Zealand. He did not know either, and he referred me to the CEO of the Local Government Commission, Donald Riezebos. Only then, on the 19th of December 2008, did I know that it was not only a nice idea but that it could easily be initiated, and by then I had done sufficient research in Thames-Coromandel District Council to know that it was an idea that should be pursued. Subsequent, in-depth research, which came to a head with a long visit to Thames on the 27th of February 2008, confirmed that Thames-Coromandel has a much higher standard of local government than Auckland City, and that it was therefore an idea that should be vigorously pursued in the best interests of the Hauraki Gulf Islands, because only then would we be getting by far the best local government available.

So it was not till months after the election that I knew what I could not have known beforehand. It is impossible to stand on a 'ticket' that does not exist, one that could not exist, one hidden in the dark mists of the future, which God alone knows.

As always, we can only follow the advice quoted by King George in his New Year broadcast in 1939: 'I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, "Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.' And he replied, "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way!" So I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And he led me towards the hills and the breaking of the day in the lone East.'

That I did, that I am doing, that I shall always do.