Dunedin City Council seen by Fairfax Business Bureau deputy editor Tim Hunter

### The Press Last updated 05:00 29/08/2012
Business: Opinion
Councils should stay away from business
By Chalkie – Tim Hunter
There are people who believe local councils should own businesses because they generate returns and ease the burden on ratepayers. Chalkie is not one of them. Your humble correspondent thinks councils should stick to their knitting. The reasons are many and varied. Taking a couple of examples at random:
a) Councils can start to think they are there to make money instead of, say, distribute water; and
b) Councils are not commercially savvy shareholders.
Poppycock, you say. Show me a single case of a council’s emptyheaded pursuit of unprofitable goals. In response, Chalkie invites you to consider Dunedin.

In that southern city the council is the proud owner of Dunedin City Holdings, whose job, according to its report, is “to manage the commercial investments of the Dunedin City Council to maximise returns”. The businesses under DCH’s umbrella include electricity network company Aurora, forestry company City Forests, the Taieri Gorge Railway Company and an engineering business called Delta Utility Services. DCH’s 2012 numbers are not yet available, but last year it trumpeted an improvement in revenue and profit and a total cash return to the council of $23.2 million. If you thought that was a good result, you’d be wrong.

When you look at several years of DCH numbers a disturbing pattern emerges of ever-increasing millions being borrowed and pumped into underperforming assets. The cashflow statements tell the story.

…A picture therefore emerges of a group prioritising asset growth over profit growth, and staying cashflow positive, just, through heavy borrowing. Chalkie suggests another term for this behaviour is empire building. Of course, it could be justifiable if the asset build-up is value enhancing in the long term, but is it?
Read more

[Reference: New Zealand Companies Office]

Previous names:

Company number: 453486
Incorporation Date: 16 Feb 1990
Company Status: Registered
Entity type: NZ Limited Company
Company Addresses:
Registered Office – 10 Halsey Street, Dunedin
Address for service – 10 Halsey Street, Dunedin

Directors (5 of 5):

Full legal name: Michael Owen COBURN
Residential Address: 154 Portobello Road, Vauxhall, Dunedin 9013
Appointment Date: 08 Oct 2003

Norman Gilbert EVANS
15 Irvine Road, The Cove, Dunedin
13 Jul 2005

Ross Douglas LIDDELL
33 Leithton Close, Dunedin 9010
24 Jun 1998

3 Walsh Lane, Maori Hill, Dunedin 9010
01 Jun 2007

Raymond Stuart POLSON
80 Browns Road, St Albans, Christchurch
21 Dec 1994

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, DCHL, Economics, Geography, Hot air, Media, Name, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site

78 responses to “Dunedin City Council seen by Fairfax Business Bureau deputy editor Tim Hunter

  1. Ray McKendry

    I urge everyone to get on to the People’s Panel. That way you can tell the DCC what you think and if you agree with “Chalkie” and me then tell them good and strong!

  2. Calvin Oaten

    Plenty to comment there. Ask anyone who has studied even casually that infested, conflict riddled nest of incompetence, the DCHL.
    The big question which it immediately raises is, why does it take a journalist from the Christchurch Press to highlight this stuff? Where indeed is the Otago Daily Times? Surely they must be cringing in their indifference. A community newspaper with this going on for years and years right under their noses must be the ultimate in insults to their competence.

  3. amanda

    That, Calvin, is the crux of the matter. Where is the local media? Looking the other way hoping we don’t notice. The media silence is collusion and support for the individuals responsible for Dunedin’s hopeless financial situation to get elected once again next year. Hudson, Brown, Noone and mates are safe and secure in the dear media’s devotion and silence.

  4. amanda

    Hudson, Brown and Noone, Acklin and fellow dunderheads once re elected will sell our city out from under us to pay for the debt that they all created. Water? Sold to pay for their incompetence.

  5. But the empire must be good, cause they can lose money yet still show a profit. Or something like that, who would know ’cause I don’t even think they do….

  6. Anonymous

    Yes, Amanda, where is the old Otago Daily Times mongrel? Why doesn’t it challenge the likes of DCHL? Even the Scene appears to have been emasculated to calm its once proud bark. The fact these two papers are thought to be whimpering in their respective dog houses shows how controlling their masters must be. They must be very bad owners indeed. Makes you wonder just how cruel these businessmen can be.

  7. Anonymous

    Anyone want to bet on the ODT paying the royalty to reprint Chalkie’s opinion? Anyone want to extend that bet on the DScene team approaching their colleague to print it next Wednesday? You might like to keep your money and play Lotto though if you’re looking for better odds.

  8. Anonymous

    Dissolve Council, appoint a Commissioner. Investigate the last administration.

  9. Anonymous

    Do I understand this correctly, Raymond and Ross have been directors of this public company since 1993 and 1998 respectively? Later joined by Michael and that director collector fella Stuart? Is it normal for directors to hold these positions in public companies for so long? It smells a little like hand-outs for best mates.

    Stuart McLauchlan. There’s a name that pops up a lot.

    • Elizabeth

      As previously noted at What if?, Stuart McLauchlan is also a Director (1 of 4) of Dunedin International Airport Ltd (401438); and a Director (1 of 5) of Scenic Circle Hotels Ltd (150894). That’s just two governance positions.

      An old profile at Scott Technology Ltd still available online:
      “Stuart McLauchlan
      Chairman and Independent Director
      BCom, FCA(PP), A.F.Inst.D
      Dunedin, Appointed Director 2007

      Stuart McLauchlan is a Senior Partner of GS McLauchlan & Co Business Advisors and Accountants, a prominent businessman and company director. Stuart McLauchlan is a Director of Scenic Circle Hotels Ltd, Dunedin International Airport Ltd, Dunedin Casinos Ltd, Aurora Energy Ltd, AD Instruments Pty Ltd, City Forests Ltd, Delta Utility Services Ltd and several other companies. He is also Chairman of the NZ Sports Hall of Fame, Chairman of Pharmac Ltd, Chairman of UDC Finance Ltd, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Otago and a member of the National Executive of the Institute of Directors.” (Link)

      Embarrassing really. “Independence?” No wonder the [Warren] Larsen Report makes the recommendations it does.

      More fun from the past about DCHL (16.9.11) DCHL and subsidiaries: shuffling, no real clean out?.


  10. Anonymous

    Old profile maybe but right underneath is Mayor Dave Cull’s second in charge Cr Chris Staynes. I can’t figure which is worse – supporting Stadium Councillor Syd Brown as the Chair of Finance or being associated with a Stakeholder. I wonder if anyone is still fooled by Greater Dunedin’s agenda in politics, if they still believe they’re in it for the best interests of the Dunedin City Ratepayer. A lot of their voters are really angry with the Graters.

  11. je

    The call for a commission of enquiry and an independent commissioner must focus on three main terms of reference.

    1. The DCHL fiasco and the lack of fiduciary care (if not criminal behaviour) by directors of some or all of these companies.

    2. Staffing levels and salaries at the DCC. Why are there over 600 employees, why do their salaries far exceed positions of similar responsibility and accountability in private enterprise in NZ today.

    3. Why are the DCC allowed to raise enormous debt by the banks to fund their new and madcap schemes, the stadium, the Town Hall redevelopment, the Otago Settlers Museum, the Chinese Garden etc etc. If the banks fund them they must accept part or all of the risk.

  12. Russell Garbutt

    So, if I understand this correctly, and missing out some of the details, reports say that some people bought a whole lot of land at Jack’s Point and Luggate, couldn’t sell it for sections, then somehow Delta (read the Dunedin City ratepayers) bought most of the sections, thus enabling the original buyers to recoup their money, and Delta spent a lot of money developing these sections which still can’t be sold and now the value of the sections has been cut enormously. Can it possibly be true that there were connections between the owners, directors of the original owners of the land, Delta/DCHL and other interested parties?

    Second point – the interesting revelations from the Chch paper about these transactions are not duplicated in our own Independent daily newspaper which seems to have missed out naming any of these people involved. Why is this?

    • Elizabeth

      ODT golden rule: “We never shop our friends, or only after another media outlet does it first. And editorially, we never give our young reporters their heads.”

  13. Calvin Oaten

    Russell, you know why. Face it, it’s “The Club”, if you are in it, hell will freeze over before you are outed for any indiscretion. If you are not in it, tough. It’s the desperation of wanting to be in it that is the biggest worry. That’s why the Stadium happened. Look at who benefited, and who pays. Pretty simple really.

  14. Calvin Oaten

    je: Point 1. Fair enough. Point 2. Not sure about the salary differences, not proven, I think. Point 3. Banks never knowingly accept risk. In these cases they are comfortable in the knowledge that Local Governments have a Statutory Right to strike rates.

  15. Anonymous

    I don’t think the SFO considers “The Club” as something that it belongs to. I would not be surprised to see criminal probes into the Jack’s Point and Luggate debacle.

    Oh, and…

    • Elizabeth

      Still wondering what the SFO’s big investigation case is, as mentioned by Adam Feeley before he ‘retired’ to the chief executive position at QLDC…
      Is the Hawkins probe big enough to be the $one?


      An awful lot of searches at What if? across the last weeks for this term: mike coburn

      • Elizabeth

        Hawkins built the stadium at Dunedin, like we need reminding :(

        ### ODT Online Tue, 22 Jan 2013
        SFO probe closes without prosecution
        A Serious Fraud Office probe into one of New Zealand’s largest privately owned construction companies – which involved raids on two premises and the seizure of computers – has been closed with no prosecution brought. The SFO last August raided two premises linked to Hawkins Construction and the $419 million upgrade of Transpower’s Hobson St substation, which the company was project managing. Hawkins was contracted by Vector and Transpower in the substation redevelopment. On the day of the raids, workers were sent home and security guards posted outside the project site. -APNZ
        Read more

  16. Hype O'Thermia

    Russell Garbutt, 2012/09/03 at 8:57 am, tells how dud properties were bought off people who bought then couldn’t afford them, subsequently developed by us (ratepayers) and still can’t be sold [for a realistic price]. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if they were to be snapped up, nicely improved, for less than they originally cost by the people who bought them in the first place! No, that would be too far-fetched even for satirical fiction.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Mon, 3 Sep 2012
      Delta write-down could slash $9m
      By Chris Morris
      Delta is considering a write-down that could result in millions of dollars being wiped off the value of its property investments in Queenstown and Luggate. The Dunedin City Council-owned company is settling annual accounts before they are made public, together with those of the rest of the Dunedin City Holdings Ltd group, later this month. The Otago Daily Times has been told the accounts would confirm a write-down in the book value of investments, including properties at Jacks Point, in Queenstown, and at Luggate, bought in 2008 and 2009.

      ● Delta bought 100 sections at Jacks Point in 2009, the year after taking a 50-50 stake in a 150-lot subdivision in Luggate being developed by Central Otago businessman Jim Boult. The exact value of the Jacks Point purchases has not been confirmed, but Cr Vandervis understood Delta had invested $8 million in the properties.
      ● A further $4 million was spent on the stake in the Luggate subdivision, the ODT reported at the time.

      The value of the write-down was up to $9 million, but the figure could change as a result of discussions between DCHL and the Office of the Auditor-general. Dunedin city councillors were briefed about the details by DCHL representatives last week.
      Read more

  17. amanda

    Yes, Russell, that is the most pertinent thing. In the whole article nobody is held accountable for the inept (or worse?) financial decisions. No names, no accountability. But from the Dear Old ORT, Julian Smith’s newspaper, this is what we come to expect.

  18. This has made a fool out of Dave Cull. When he argued against the Government’s plans to restrict councils’ activities, he used the Jacks Point “investment” as something that should be allowed, because the returns would reduce the burden on ratepayers.
    I wonder if he will now support these restrictions, to protect councils from their own arrogance and stupidity.

  19. Anonymous

    That story was nicely crafted. You had to get half way in to start feeling the itch something isn’t right about it. And that heading. What the heck? ‘Delta write-down could slash $9m’… two comments overhead today: “Is that saving DCC money?” and “The heading is boring.”

    The ODT knows the truth and although it went on the front page, it was still done in a fashion that limited any broad understanding of the issue and sustained damage to the Friends of Oddity aka The Other Rich Listers aka Stakeholders.

    This is a self-serving rort which has scammed Dunedin of ANOTHER NINE MILLION DOLLARS. That’s MILLIONS. MIL-LI-ONS. M. I. L. L. I. O. N. S. MILLIONS.

    People get angry when someone steals from them but turn a blind eye to the rich boys doing exactly that to them every day.

    The Dunedin City Council is corrupt. Fire the chief at Delta.

  20. Anonymous

    Further, Delta should never have entered into this property speculation. Don’t write it off. Go after the people who committed to this decision and take them up on criminal charges.

    • Elizabeth

      That would be, fire the CEO, and the Directors responsible for governance – but with the icing of an SFO investigation if not already in progress. ODT will be on the slow news train until something further/unavoidable breaks ? The timing of the Fairfax ‘opinion’ isn’t likely to have been casual or chance. Plus, fair dues, (Fairfax) D Scene ‘of old’ had been watching Delta assiduously.

  21. amanda

    Well observed Anonymous, I also at first thought that the $9 million was a savings, and had to read the whole article to find out it was, of course, a loss of $9 million for Dunedin ratepayers. The softening up tactic of the headline is something I had missed.

  22. Anonymous

    Yes, Elizabeth, I miss that punchy D Scene of old too. Among them, there were several short, interesting updates relating to the ongoing struggle D Scene experienced getting information on this. It would be timely to line them up in chronological order. I’ll try and find them.

  23. Anonymous

    (I would like to see D Scene run that opinion on Wednesday.)

  24. Hype O'Thermia

    Pity about DScene. Entire editor was replaced by a gelding.

  25. Anonymous

    Readers unfamiliar with how long this story has been developing due to buying the ODT may find this one from 2009 quite interesting (it appears on this site in several discussions too): http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/dunedin-city-councils-delta-rescues-hanover-jacks-point-105123. Comments on the same page made three years ago make for interesting reflection now.

  26. Elizabeth

    See ALL mentions of Jack’s Point at the following posts and comments up until today’s ODT story:

    [NBR story published Thursday July 09, 2009]
    Alistair Mckay https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/stakeholders-group-report-to-dcc/#comment-8702
    Calvin Oaten https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/stakeholders-group-report-to-dcc/#comment-8714
    Calvin Oaten https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/stakeholders-group-report-to-dcc/#comment-8717
    Calvin Oaten https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/stakeholders-group-report-to-dcc/#comment-8732
    Calvin Oaten https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/stakeholders-group-report-to-dcc/#comment-8742
    Richard https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/stakeholders-group-report-to-dcc/#comment-8747
    Russell Garbutt https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/stadium-funding/#comment-16494
    Alistair https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/and-we-let-dunedin-residents-vote/#comment-17045
    Calvin Oaten https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/and-we-let-dunedin-residents-vote/#comment-17049
    Anonymous https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/dcc-has-unlimited-ability-to-cost-in-big-spends-apparently/#comment-18099
    Anonymous https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/dcc-has-unlimited-ability-to-cost-in-big-spends-apparently/#comment-18129
    Anonymous https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/is-there-a-conflict-of-interest/#comment-18787
    Alistair https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/is-there-a-conflict-of-interest/#comment-18792
    Elizabeth https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/d-scene-cull-co-planning-asset-sales/#comment-18879
    Robert Hamlin https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/your-city-what-future-broke-council-means-corporatising-our-water-doesnt-it/#comment-19301
    Robert Hamlin https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/dunedin-city-holdings-limited/#comment-19561
    Anonymous https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/carisbrook-sale/#comment-21546
    Anonymous https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/d-scene-call-for-full-inquiry-into-stadium-project/#comment-22253 {
    Russell Garbutt https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/dcc-considers-writing-off-orfus-400000-debt/#comment-22264
    Calvin Oaten https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/d-scene-call-for-full-inquiry-into-stadium-project/#comment-22287
    Calvin Oaten https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/asset-sales-would-daves-council-sell-us-up/#comment-24440
    Elizabeth https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/dunedin-city-councillors-contact-the-audit-commission-immediately/#comment-24874
    Anonymous https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/how-perverse-is-the-new-zealand-housing-market/#comment-24893
    Calvin Oaten https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/dcc-dchl-debt-democracy-and-professional-rugby/#comment-26192
    Elizabeth https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/dunedin-water-assets/#comment-26215
    Elizabeth https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/stadium-deathwatch/#comment-26498
    Elizabeth https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/dunedin-city-council-seen-by-fairfax-business-bureau-deputy-editor-tim-hunter/#comment-26679 [today’s ODT front page]

  27. Elizabeth

    Keep shouting “Hanover Finance” “John Darby” “Fletcher Residential” “(Australian) Babcock & Brown” “Jim Boult” “(Canadian) Intrawest” “Delta Utility Services” “Dunedin City Holdings” “Dunedin City Council” “Michael Coburn” “Ruboc Holdings” “Norman Evans” “Ross Liddell” “Stuart McLauchlan” “Raymond Polson” in no particular order. Add more names (see all board directors, chief executives, councillors, and friends at the time, etc etc)…

    In the hope SFO has lined up the ducks.

  28. Anon

    Not only is the ODT devoid of any investigatory journalism regarding this matter, but I note that the online comments section has also been devoid of any discussion regarding this matter, which is highly unusual given the normal tone of contributors.

    Julian Smith = Owner Allied Press & Arthur Barnett
    Mike Coburn = Director Arthur Barnett.

    • Elizabeth

      Anon, ODT is (in)famous for exercising full censorship of letters and comments received and which it finds ‘disagreeable’ for its own reasons, despite matters discussed being in the glaring public interest. Yep, friends of friends come into it. Always. And avoiding those er friends’ lawyers….

  29. That Hawkins thing is interesting with the parent company being McConnell.
    “Malcolm McConnell co-founded McConnell Dowell and built this business into a leading international construction company*”

    Over the years, first my father then I have had a bit to do with McConnell Dowell and they have always run it dodgy, in fact I’m amazed they lasted this long.

  30. Calvin Oaten

    Hold on!! Jim Dowell is a NE Valley boy. Top of the class at NE Valley school. Dux OBHS. Good guy. Don’t know that he has anything to do with it now. Will be in his eighties by now. Malcolm McConnell is dead just now so I doubt either of them would approve.

  31. Elizabeth

    Spot the missing word: “STADIUM” as we ponder, along with the ODT editor (ever so quietly to avoid ripples amongst friends and old boys), what’s been going on at council-owned Delta Utility Services Limited…

    ### ODT Online Sat, 8 Sep 2012
    Editorial: Should councils be in business?
    Debate emerges periodically about the roles of local councils. Should they stick to their core roading, water and sewage functions, with allocations for a swimming pool or two, libraries and gardens? Should they extend to museums, art galleries and sports support? Do they spend money encouraging business development? Does their concern include the social health of cities or districts? And, crucially, should they be owning businesses?

    These days, more than ever, many councillors lack business acumen. There might still be some financial skill on the Dunedin City Council, but it would be less than, say, 20 to 25 years ago. Additionally, councillors by their very nature are political, rather than profit-driven. That affects their thinking, even when they imagine it does not.

    What did happen in Dunedin’s case is demands for dividends from the council grew to exceed the earning power of the companies, placing pressures on the holding company and the individual companies which were not resisted sufficiently. Council companies were in the invidious positions of borrowing to pay the council. One wonders, too, about other influences exerted directly or indirectly.

    Read more

    • Elizabeth

      Something about snowballs and Eskimos…

      Asked if he had undertaken a similar write-down, Mr Boult said: “I’m a private owner. I’m Jim Boult. I’m obviously not in the same boat they are in.”

      ### ODT Online Mon, 10 Sep 2012
      Property developer advocates patience
      By Mark Price
      “Patience” is what is required for property developers, according to Delta’s joint venture partner in Luggate Park, Jim Boult. Mr Boult, of Christchurch, was reluctant to discuss with the Otago Daily Times details of his arrangement with Delta except to reaffirm the joint-venture arrangement and say: “If you want to be in the property business, you have got to be very patient.” Delta invested $4 million in a 50-50 stake in stage two of the subdivision in 2008 but last week, the ODT reported Delta was understood to be considering a “write-down” of up to $9 million in its investment at Luggate Park and also at Jacks Point, Queenstown.
      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Tue, 11 Sep 2012
        Delta planning staff cuts
        By Chris Morris
        Dunedin has been dealt another blow with confirmation Delta plans to make up to 30 workers in the city redundant, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says. The proposed redundancies were announced by Delta chief executive Grady Cameron yesterday, hours after the company’s Dunedin workers were called to a meeting to hear the announcement and discuss the company’s future.
        Read more

      • John Evans

        If Jim Boult was forced to write down the value of his property investments by his bank then he would probably be declared insolvent or at least come under enormous pressure (as many property developers have been).

        The DCC had to write down theirs and they are insolvent also, except for the fact that they have unlimited call on the ratepayers of Dunedin.

        If we could in some way change that guarantee of payment by the ratepayers either by fiat or by withdrawal of goodwill, DCC reform would be inevitable, it would stop cowboys working for the DCC, naive in business, spending ratepayers’ money. It would enable the DCC to declare bankruptcy and divest itself of the stadium, chinese garden, albatross colony and other liabilities that it can be proven it is incapable of managing profitably. The DCC would have to get back to core business, picking up the rubbish, rather than recycling, organising sewage disposal legally (rather than pumping it into Broad Bay), fixing up the drains and getting out of trying to be businessmen and failing.

  32. Anonymous

    People should be angry about the Delta situation. The job losses take $1-2 million out of the Dunedin economy annually, on top of the $9 million lost with the speculative land purchases that should never have been allowed.

    Detailed investigation of Ruboc Holdings and Mike Coburn’s role should ensue, both with the Jacks Point deal and his presence on the Project Delivery Team for the Stadium.

  33. Hype O'Thermia

    Excuse me for being a bit confused about Delta. I’d like help to clarify some of the things I seem to have remembered but may have got wrong, or attributed to the wrong people/organisations.
    They have to lay staff off because there isn’t enough work so they can’t afford to keep staff on.
    They made a big profit last year.
    They have to pay the DCC a large dividend no matter what.
    They fortunately were pretty flush when money was being vacuumed up for the building of the stadium, it’s just that now there’s, like, you know, even the USA is in trouble.
    They bought sections as speculative investments outside their core business. Was that Delta or am I blaming the wrong people? Then the claimed valuation of these properties has to be reduced by millions because there are no buyers at the current book valuation. This must figure somewhere in the profits stated, or does accountancy make it go into another column so it doesn’t affect the appearance of success i.e. profit?
    The DCC still isn’t getting enough money from Delta etc to pay for the services of Delta etc who do the work on core services.
    This doesn’t matter because core services such as road deterioration aren’t required as much as they used to be back before the Stadium was built.
    Nobody is at fault for anything, not even the Delta employees but they have to be sacked because, hey, shit happens.

    Sorry to bother you onto-it people with this, I’m sure I would get the hang of it if I concentrated harder but I’m kind of distracted what with the DCC and ORC rates bills to manage out of a small fixed income.

  34. Anonymous

    Remember a few years ago when a senior ex-Delta manager went to jail for fraud?

    It’s like that.

  35. The stench around this council and its ‘companies’ is, well, I’m sure there’s some flash words to describe it, and I get growled at when it’s said the way it should be said.
    Here’s a thought. Employ the staff direct to the council. Sack the talking heads running Delta now and put the council back to it’s core job, the way it should have remained instead of the big money shuffle that’s going on now. Hold all involved accountable, from the top.
    I know I know, the talk of a mad man.

  36. Russell Garbutt

    Wouldn’t it be good if Mr Cameron of Delta – who owes his living to the ratepayers of this City – would answer the following questions:

    1. How much cash has he authorised to be given to professional or other rugby in this town in the last 10 years?
    2. What is the value of donated services from Delta to rugby in the same period?
    3. What is the value of donated goods from Delta to rugby in this period?
    4. What is the total cost of all purchase of “product” by Delta for the new rugby stadium?
    5. How much money has been spent on entertaining clients at the new rugby stadium?
    6. Which Board members or senior management staff have been recipients of Delta hospitality at the Delta corporate box at the new rugby stadium?
    7. Where does the cash component of all services and goods provided by Delta to the developments at Jacks Point and Luggate appear in the books of Delta?
    8. What independent advice did he obtain or insist upon before agreeing to all public and private arrangements entered into with the developers of Jacks Point and Luggate?
    9. What is the total write-down of the land purchases of Jacks Point and Luggate?
    10. When will he front up to those being laid off to explain his actions in regards to points 1. – 9. above?
    11. When will he resign?

  37. amanda

    Well, I guess we just have to wait for the Otago Daily times, the ‘independant voice of the south’, to ask Cameron those questions, They are indeed very pertinent questions to Dunedin people and their ability to survive in this increasingly feral fiscal environment where Anything and Everyone ( but not councillors or stakeholders) must be Sacrificed so tha that the Great Fubar can ‘work’ and Important Reputations of ‘business Geniuses’ stay intact.

  38. Stu

    Newton’s Coachways (1993) Ltd was the original vehicle for Jack’s Point and Luggate purchases. This company is now Delta Investments Limited.
    Directors: Grady Cameron, Mike Coburn, Stuart Mclauchlan and Ray Polson.

    Mclauchlan is Coburn’s accountant for Ruboc Holdings.

  39. Hype O'Thermia

    The daisy chain……

  40. Anonymous

    Once again, criminal charges need to be brought against the directors of this public company and Grady Cameron should be stood down immediately. This is clearly a case of Stakeholders looking after Stakeholders at the horrific cost to staff and misspent millions.

    Their inappropriate spending on rugby sponsorship in its various forms and the property speculation should now result in immediate dismissal. These decisions are leading to the firing of hard-working, front-line staff and has nothing to do with the various excuses he and his mouthpiece Dave Cull try to present with the assistance of the Otago Daily Times.

    That paper only vaguely referred to previous decisions – “Mr Cameron’s statement made no mention of the investments” – and yet on the 3rd of September it and the same reporter wrote about this corrupted company wanting to write-off $9M in public money because of those decisions.

    Fire Mr Cameron and investigate the board’s decisions.

  41. Anonymous

    Mayor Dave Cull is an idiot for letting himself be pulled into this mess. It should have been the position of the CEO or chairman of DCHL. His involvement does not soften the blow and only makes him look more of a lackey to those Stakeholders.

    It’s called cannon-fodder in political circles.

  42. amanda

    Unfortunately Cull has the ear of the stakeholders, in USA Speak they are powerful ‘lobbyists’. What do the Dunedin people have for leverage? We squandered any power we had when we re-elected those responsible for the stadium debt at the last election. That was a powerful message to Cull and councillors, that Dunedin people do not hold politicians to account for negligence. So I perfectly understand why Cull is not bothered by any tut-tutting from the average person. We are easily manipulable (I’m looking at the in-love-with-all-things-rugby-media) and so they hand over all power to those who are very happy to take it. Enter those with their eyes on the long game of asset sales.

  43. Anonymous

    The ODT expanded on yesterday’s announcement from Delta when an employee contacted the paper, forcing its hand to raise the related news it appeared to forget about.

    ‘”The ODT earlier this month reported Delta was considering a write-down of the value of investments, possibly by as much as $9 million.”

    It is time for Grady Cameron to be fired and the directors to step away. Far, far away from any public company. Let the private companies have them if they’re that damn good.

    If the hero had not contacted the ODT would it have connected these two press announcements?

    ### ODT Online Wed, 12 Sep 2012
    Employee critical of Delta bosses
    By Chris Morris
    As concerns grow about job losses at Delta, Dunedin employees are pointing the finger at senior managers, according to the Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand and a worker.
    Delta on Monday announced plans to axe up to 30 staff from its Dunedin roading and drainage operation as part of an ongoing review, citing continuing tough market conditions.
    That prompted one senior Delta worker, based in Dunedin, to contact the Otago Daily Times and voice concerns yesterday.
    Read More

  44. Mike

    ‘tougher market conditions’ may just be code for “the city spent too much on the stadium and can’t afford to fix the drains” – it’s not as if there’s a lot of private roads and drains in Dunedin, there’s really only one customer in their market

  45. amanda

    It wasn’t the city that did. It was specific individuals, all of whom are sitting around council right now making decisions about the city’s fiscal future. All of whom the ODT dare not mention any connection to the debt they foisted on the city. These fiscal fools are Crs Hudson, Noone, Acklin, Weatherall, Cr “Glass half full’ Collins, Bezett, and finally, our Brilliant Chair of DCC Economic Development Cr Brown. These secret seven hold the majority on council. With these nimcompoops at the helm of the city’s finances no wonder we are in a spot of financial bother. They got us in this mess, they aren’t capable of getting us out.

  46. Did the council make it a part of the scope of works for Delta to look for work/spend money out of Dunedin? I fail to see why that would be the case as, after all, it is a council company set up to look after the council works.
    These idiots got handed this cream with a set income and they still manage to have major screw ups.

  47. Elizabeth

    Register to read D Scene online at

    ### D Scene 26.9.12
    Councillor on the warpath
    By Wilma McCorkindale
    Outspoken Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis says heads should roll over Delta’s property purchases at Jacks Point and Luggate. Vandervis is on the warpath against some directors of the Dunedin City Council group of companies, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, because they are refusing to answer questions about subsidiary company Delta’s foray into the Lakes District property development market.

    Lee Vandervis’ questions to DCHL directors:
    1. Did you vote against the purchase of Jacks Point/Luggate properties in which Delta/DCHL have an interest?
    2. Did you have any personal interest in any Jacks Point or Luggate properties?
    3. Have you been aware of any property being acquired by Delta/DCHL in lieu of payment for services supplied?
    4. Were you aware of government valuations relating to Jacks Point and Luggate properties acquired by Delta/DCHL at the times of their purchase?
    5. Are you aware of any gross inaccuracies in numbers presented in the article from Fairfax Business Editor Tim Hunter?

    D Scene raised concerns about the investments three years ago. At the time, DCHL directors declined to provide information.
    {continues} #bookmark

  48. Peter

    It’s good that we have councillors, like Lee Vandervis and Jinty MacTavish who, in their own spheres of interest, are prepared to speak up on issues that are important, not only to them, but the populace at large.The trouble is we need more of these kind of people on council and not the ones who are only adept at contemplating their own rectums and those of whom they follow blindly.

  49. amanda

    Let’s keep on eye on just who tries to shut down Vandervis and his awkward questions. Who stands up and tries to protect the negligent directors? Who in the media, which stakeholders, which councillors? These directors fiscal negligence has resulted in several people losing their livelihoods while the directors sit back nice and comfy. The least we can do is take note of who in Dunedin thinks that is just fine.

  50. amanda

    We know Cull is fine with these directors sitting pretty but who else is?

    • Elizabeth

      amanda, you say: “We know Cull is fine with these directors sitting pretty but who else is?”

      Given the names of the directors for DCHL and the council-owned subsidiaries right now (not forgetting their friends outside that actively pull strings), as the governance ‘restructure’ unfolds…

      It is VERY clear that conflicts of interest borne by current and newly appointed directors (including the two men tasked with overseeing the restructure) are fully present; and NO ethical/moral/business/financial independence is present, for good governance to proceed.

      WORSE. The writer of the Larsen Report (released 11 August 2011) – Warren Larsen – appears to condone the changes wrought for peopling of the boards. Larsen’s independence, his agenda, and the brief he was set by the Dunedin City Council must now be called into question.

      That’s the state of the game.

      So WHAT exactly will cause this ‘pyramid’ to crack, for transparency and public accountability to ensue? And WHO will be agent(s) for exploding the Good Old Boys’ red carpet, as frequently used to smother ratepayer and resident suspicion and finger-pointing at the misuse of public funds, obfuscation, deception and white-collar fraud by the esteemed bastions of society we have come to know and love so well.

      What kills carpet worms.

      • Elizabeth

        Does fumigation commence gently with a live camera put on DCHL when its board chairman is forced to reply to Cr Vandervis’ questions ? Not sure. Worth a try. A camera for starters, is better than facing ‘the meal’ of a Justice of the High Court. Plenty of time for that.

  51. amanda

    Ha. The question about the media is already answered. I note that it is not the ODT who dares have this article. Typical.

  52. From D Scene 26.9.12:
    “[DCHL Chairman] Shale said he could not see how ownership of the properties by Delta would have an adverse effect on paying dividends.”
    It is obvious to everyone-else that the interest costs of holding the properties would otherwise be available to pay dividends, as would the money used to cover the losses.
    Don’t expect him to find an skeletons buried in DCHL. He was a director of South Canterbury Finance which is hardly a plus, but being part of the old-boys network seems to be what is required for this job.

  53. Peter

    He must rank up there with Darren Burden after his comment on National Radio the other day. Don’t these men have any pride in perceived credibility and in themselves?

  54. And Larsen has got those pesky Councillors removed from the DCHL boards. At least they were voted in, the problem was that they were ineffectual. Now DCHL is effectively outside the control of the Council, at least without losing face and removing Shale.

    • Elizabeth

      The fall guy to date has been Cr Hudson, or ‘Paul Hudson’ if a separation must be shown with respect to DCHL. He has lost a lot of potential income, and must surely feel aggrieved for having been replaced by whomever on the take.

  55. Peter

    Try not to be too upset, Elizabeth! He’s had a fair suck of the sav for years. A shame, though, that he can no longer dine out, for free, at ‘The Hungry Frenchman’ to drown his sorrows.

  56. Russell Garbutt

    I haven’t had a chance to read the D Scene article but if Shale said that the activities of DCHL via Delta and Aurora haven’t affected the abiltiy of DCHL to pay a dividend then he must be stupid.

    If you have done any of the following, then you don’t have the dosh to distribute:

    1 Borrow more to make up shortfalls
    2 Don’t receive cash for provided services or goods
    3 Made big losses in asset worth by stupid non-core actions
    4 Continued to pour cash, goods and services into the ORFU

    For God’s sake, these Directors are patently useless. What seems to me to be as bad is the refusal for staff to answer questions. Public floggings in the Octagon would be a good start for the lot of them.

  57. Only after they have had their personal assets stripped and put into the community pot Russell.

  58. That whole article by ‘Chalkie’ ought to be copied, framed and sent to all councillors. It is a classic summation of how not to let your corporate ‘lackies’ operate. Instead of being so efficient that the citizens would no longer need to pay rates (as the late Richard Walls postulated) it is well on the way to bankruptcy, taking the whole city with it.

    {Will look into it. -Eds}

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s