The Weed Management Advisory Group has issued the following media release.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown throws policy to the wolves
Speakers at a Council committee yesterday (Thursday 7 July 2016) were appalled when barely minutes after they had left the chamber, Mayor Brown issued a press release announcing his decision to review Council’s weed management policy.
Hana Blackmore of the independent Weed Management Advisory (WMA), and one of a number of presenters expressing their concerns about the expansion of chemicals on Auckland’s streets and parks said they had been manipulated and blindsided by the Mayor.
“We believed we were finally being given an opportunity to be heard after the debacle of the shutdown of debate over annual plan budget cuts” she said.
“But Mayor Brown’s plan had obviously been prepared well in advance and he was not listening to anything anyone said at that meeting. It was discourteous and disrespectful.”
Blackmore said that all the concerns expressed yesterday by the four speakers and several councillors, centred on health and budgets – neither of which has been acknowledged by Mayor Brown.
“If he had been listening he would have clearly understood that we have no issue with the policy itself, but with its lack of implementation three years after it was adopted.”
Serious questions were raised by Hana Blackmore in her presentation about the huge hike in the cost of vegetation control on the streets after Auckland Transport took over contracts from the cities.
She illustrated the impact with a simple before and after chart that tracked the price of contracts and supposed comparative cost analyses from Auckland Transport that she said are currently being used to frighten Councillors into believing non-chemical alternatives cannot be afforded.
“It was apparent that Mayor Brown was disturbed by the information, but he makes no mention of this” said Blackmore. “Nor did he acknowledge my appeal for Council to consider the possibility that the simple act of passing vegetation control to Transport has tripled the price because of the number of contractors and sub-contractors hands the money has to pass through.”
She asked that serious consideration be given to removing vegetation control from Auckland Transport Maintenance and returning it to direct contracts with Council via Parks.
“Potential savings in the millions of dollars could then be used to implement integrated non-chemical vegetation control across the entire city,” she said.
Blackmore said it is hugely frustrating that instead of genuine investigation and positive actions that could finally remove all chemicals from the city everyone is now going to have to waste time, energy and scarce resources in reviewing and trying to fix a Policy that’s not broken.
“Even worse, Mayor Brown has handed responsibility for doing this review to the very officers who have not only failed to make any progress in implementing this Policy, but have actively sought to nullify it” she said.
“This baby weed management policy has barely drawn breath let alone been allowed to crawl, but Mayor Brown yesterday didn’t just throw it out with the bathwater he threw it to the wolves.”
Once Auckland Transport were handed responsibility for the road corridor, taking over from Parks, it became clear that they favoured an Auckland-wide policy of chemical weed spraying. Sadly, the current Waiheke Local Board has been less than supportive of the long-term environmental initiative of the WWMG. The former Parks Manager, Gary Wilton, was an advocate of chemical spraying and had gradually introduced chemical spraying into Waiheke Parks supported by the Board. This left the Weed Management Group on their own to fight Auckland Council. They now face an uphill battle to retain non-chemical spraying.
It might seem counter intuitive that this supposedly ‘green’ Waiheke Local Board should be against the environment until you consider that the ‘environment’ is just a political weapon used to support a cultural Marxist agenda. In reality, the large scale environmental initiatives of the first Waiheke Local Board have either been shelved by this board or reduced to a rump. I recall Green Party Board member Denise Roche saying at a local board meeting, “It’s not about the environment, it’s about the people.”
How true. It’s all about shovelling ratepayers’ money into the coffers of its support groups run by Roche/Stansfield and their cronies so they can fund their re-election. These pseudo-environmentalists think they can discard real environmentalists like Hana Blackmore. They should beware. She may return leading the pack.