Due Process?

Quite aside from the moral paradox of saturating a wildlife “Sanctuary” in deadly poison, I continue to be baffled by the complete and utter exclusion of the public in this process.

Quite aside from the limited notification, the land in question is council owned. Council, as the landowner, is an affected party and legitimately has the right to submit on the resource consent application. They haven’t. It has, again, been deemed an operational matter, managed entirely by council staff. Theoretically, as both an affected party and a public representation body, council should have been able to call for public input before making its own submission on the process. Instead, we have just this arbitrary letter of approval, which was not even included in the consent application, although it was received before the final version was put forward. All other letters of approval were included; from Forest and Bird, David Butler etc. This letter was omitted in its entirety. Council was not listed as a party that had given prior approval, but as a party to be notified. Why?

It needs to be made clear that the approval from ‘council’ was given by the council corporation, not the representative body. This is an important distinction, as it means the matter has not been put before council at all. Councillors, as public representatives, have been just as effectively excluded from voicing their views on the process as have the rest of the public. That’s not good enough. How can staff offer such approval without even consulting those it is approving on behalf of? We don’t elect the CEO to represent us. Yes yes I know it’s an ‘operational matter’ and not everything can pass across the council table. That may be good enough for the beaurocrats, but its not good enough for the public, and shouldn’t be good enough for our councillors either.

The sanctuary has argued, within its consent application, that council consent for this operation was “implied” in its leasing of the land as a wildlife sanctuary in the first place. “Implied” consent, never has, nor ever should be, good enough. That’s like saying “consent was implied because you let me into your house”.

It’s a distasteful comparison, but to those opposed to the poison drops, who have supported the sanctuary in the past, be it with time or money, it feels much like our rights of objection, and our land, are being violated.

But we are not powerless in this, unless we allow ourselves to be. Get in touch if you want to be involved, we will keep making noise, and are open to all suggestions! At present, we are focused on participating in the consent application to the fullest extent we are able, gathering documentation, expert witnesses, drumming up support for the hearing, writing letters to council and the sanctuary trustees. Outside of this process there is much else we can engage on. Protests, placards etc, watch this space.

Kia Kaha

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