Recently, as many of you know, the Waikato Regional Council took the very difficult decision to replace our chair. Not one councillor would have found this an easy decision to take and indeed there were strongly held views expressed on both sides of the debate. I know that both Stu Kneebone and I as your representatives were torn by the enormity and complexity of the decision and listened carefully to all the views of our colleagues.
Good governance is about determining purpose, developing an effective governance culture, holding executives and governors to account and finally effective compliance. It is my opinion that the council has developed a good working culture and will hold people to account and have demonstrated that throughout this term.
There are some who would like you to believe this decision was about Three Waters, as it serves their political agendas. Let me assure you that is not the case. Three Waters refers to district councils’ infrastructure for the delivery of drinking water, and the disposal of storm water and wastewater. This infrastructure is owned and operated by district councils. It is not the regional council’s business, and never has been.
This is about trust and confidence in the chair. The chair has a responsibility to set an effective tone from the top down and establish an inclusive governance culture that encourages all councillors to work to their best. As a customer focused organisation, WRC needs a chair who can foster good relationships with our stakeholders, and fairly represent the views of the council.
Many will have taken note of the fact that the new chair Barry Quayle was nominated by Russ Rimmington and seconded by Stu Kneebone. This is significant. Choosing a new chair who is respected by both sides of the debate is sending a strong message. It is evidence of a council that has recognised change is needed, to enable making good quality consensus decisions for the region.
I want to recognise and thank Russ Rimmington for the huge contribution he has made to local body politics over a number of years. I have been quoted and stand by my comments that Russ has taught me a few skills and can always be relied on for some friendly banter. It’s also appropriate to thank Barry Quayle for agreeing to accept the chair’s role for the remaining short period of the term.
WRC acknowledges the importance of good governance and is able to debate difficult and complex issues and come to a consensus. As your constituent councillors, we felt it important to respectfully share some of our views and reasoning behind this recent council decision.
On another note, as mentioned last month, WRC is holding a series of one-day water workshops around the region before we make changes to our Waikato Regional Policy Statement and Waikato Regional Plan, to align with new central government directions. You can register for a workshop on the Waikato Regional Council website.