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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Conflict of interest query for Environment Southland councillors

An Environment Southland councillor has questioned whether other members of the council may have a conflict of interest in dealing with the Water and Land plan.
Councillor Robert Guyton has questioned whether the farmers on the council would have a potential conflict of interest when it came to voicing their opinions on the Water and Land plan, which depending on the decisions of the plan, could have significant pecuniary outcomes for them.

Guyton further questioned whether the issue should be legally reviewed.

Chairman Ali Timms responded that the plan had the potential to affect not just farmers but everyone on the council.

"It's up to the councillors to come at it with a clear and open mind."

At this stage there was no reason to seek legal advice, she said.

When it came to making decisions on the plan, those councillors directly affected could be asked whether they thought they had a conflict, she said.

Timms asked for evidence of a conflict and stated the issue had never come up before, locally or nationally.

Guyton said some of the farmers on the council had discussed the costs the plan could have on their own businesses with him.

The fact the issue had not arisen before did not mean it was not relevant, he said.

"It gets me thinking that really they shouldn't be making decisions about that."

Councillors Nicol Horrell, Peter Jones, Lloyd McCallum and Grant Hubber all run farming businesses.

Chief executive Rob Phillips said that if staff felt there was an issue they could seek advice further down the line.

"At this stage, we don't see any issues."


Bioneer said...

Sounds like they're struggling with the fact that the question was asked let alone understanding the gravity of actually addressing the question :/

robertguyton said...

Quite right, Bio. Evading the kernel of the question seems to be second-nature to them. I'm not sure they even know that they are doing it.