Delta #EpicPowerFail : Delta fulfils Adam Smith’s 1776 Prophecy

Received from Christchurch Driver [CD]
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 at 11:28 p.m.


There is no time for a Choysa tonight, we must address matters that have burst upon the national consciousness, at last.

The carefully constructed electoral feel-good fiction of Mayor Cull came crashing down on TV3 last night, like a rotten, toppling power pole crushing a car….(sound familiar, readers?). CEO Grady Cameron was a televisual train wreck, stammering, sweating profusely, looking anywhere but at the reporter grilling him, failing to answer some questions, then digging himself deeper on the ones he did answer. This train wreck must surely be a fatal one. Like all fatalities, decency would require that we look away, but there was a morbid fascination to see Grady bury himself, and his career at Delta. TV3 promised “this is not going away” and all Dunedinites who walk within 8 metres of a power pole owe a debt to TV3 for this. Unlike the sycophants at National Radio concerning the Delta “breakthrough” at Noble, TV3 couldn’t be manipulated into reporting deceptions.

And where was the ODT with this story that headlined on national news ? Nowhere. A complete silence. Editor Stewart, you make us sick. Editorial independence, never a strong point at the ODT, now looks to be completely eliminated with respect to DCC matters…. because the new CEO was the chief sidekick and enabler for the mayoral fiction that “financial dangerous messes” at DCHL and DCC were but a distant memory. In fact not only did the ODT prefer the front page ‘headline’ of an “Intimate visual recording” that ordinarily would have barely rated a paragraph in the court news, it also played a sick joke on readers by giving page 5 coverage about lightning striking a retirement village. Cynically, the article went on to acknowledge that an electrician said this wasn’t common – he knew of 6 incidents in 40 years. Delta whistleblower Richard Healey, of course, could name 6 fallen power poles that occurred within a month in Dunedin. Mr Cameron and Mr Crombie, as the ODT headline said, “A frightening bolt from the blue” … is coming for YOU.


It is clear, it seems, that all chest puffing about the tens of millions of Delta and Aurora dividends paid to DCC since the late 1990s (promoted by everyone from CEO Bidrose, DCHL Directors to Mayor Cull) was just that – puffery. Asset replacement has been deferred for a very long time, and has been aided and abetted with inept directors such as Kempton, McLauchlan, Parton, and before them, Polson and Coburn. (Note, this is a far from exhaustive list !), who either did not have the integrity to say to Council to take a hike on the dividends because the priority is a functioning electricity network, or were out of their depth, and resorted to an accounting approach and signed off on capital expenditure that bore no relation to reality. These directors expected that they would not suffer any consequences. “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone” in the famous words of the 2015 John Kay treatise, Other People’s Money (highly recommended, readers !).

The alleged profits and dividend payments from Delta and Aurora, can be seen now as defined in the 2007 exposé, The Black Swan, as nothing more than “profits were simply cash borrowed from destiny, with some random payback time”. The directorial trick was to have departed when the music stopped and payback time arrived.

Mayor Cull must stop his bromance with the dismal Mr McLauchlan, who, as it has been pointed out in recent threads, has been present at the DCC trough for every major DCHL debacle since his appointment in 2007. Mr McLauchlan was instrumental in appointing Mr Cameron as CEO in 2009. A number of people can confirm that Mr McLauchlan told anyone who would listen in 2008 that he had found this excellent young executive, Grady Cameron, who apparently was far, far better than then present incumbent John Walsh. Another failure, Mr McLauchlan, one that has cost the city tens of millions, if not nine figures. Mr McLauchlan is on the outer at the University, and the DCC has shown some good sense by introducing director term limits so he is out next year. Mayor Cull, don’t wait for next year, show some leadership and ditch him, Kempton, Parton and Mr Crombie now. At least then you can say to the inquiry that you’ve done something. (And yes, there will be an inquiry that you will not be able to influence, unlike the another recent Delta inquiry).

The truly amazing point is that if Mr Healey’s allegations are true (and this correspondent has been given credible information that Mr Healey can prove everything he alleges), then yes-man-in-chief Grady has presided over some amazing deceptions that trump even the lies and deceptions at the Noble subdivision. How could a functioning competent and credible organisation allow the sudden and false misclassification of thousands of rotten and dangerous power poles from rotten to robust ? The answer is that Delta is dysfunctional, incompetent and corrupt and must be stripped from top to bottom.

Adam Smith said it best in 1776 :

“The directors of such companies, however, being the managers rather of other people’s money than of their own, it cannot be expected, that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which the partners in a private copartnery frequently watch over their own… negligence and profusion must always prevail, more or less”.

Time to stop the negligence and profusion of waste and incompetence, and make Delta a department of the Dunedin City Council. Cr Lee Vandervis, who has warned about the impending Delta disasters for years, and stated publicly in the election campaign that he strongly favoured a return to direct council control of Delta, has been proven to be right.


█ For more, enter the terms *delta*, *aurora*, *epic fraud* or *dchl* in the search box at right.


● John Anderson Kay is a visiting professor of economics at the London School of Economics and a fellow of St John’s College, Oxford University. He is a director of several public companies and contributes a weekly column to the Financial Times. In his book Other People’s Money: The Real Business of Finance (2015), Kay demonstrates “an ability to explain the role in the 2007-08 financial crisis of such concepts as credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations and moral hazard… [He] is at his best in reminding us that the financial system is still fragile and in explaining that more regulation is not the answer… We can applaud his call for a cultural change that will enhance ethical standards and put the customer first.” —Wall Street Journal

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007) is a book by the essayist, scholar, philosopher and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It focuses on the extreme impact of certain kinds of rare and unpredictable events (outliers) and humans’ tendency to find simplistic explanations for these events retrospectively. This theory has since become known as the black swan theory. The book also covers subjects relating to knowledge, aesthetics, and ways of life, and uses elements of fiction in making its points. The author frequently shares anecdotes from his own life to elaborate his theories. The first edition spent 36 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The book is part of Taleb’s four volume philosophical essay on uncertainty, titled the Incerto.

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth, and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

*Image: Delta 2016 Annual Report, page 63 illustration (detail tweaked by whatifdunedin)


Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, DCC, DCHL, Delta, Democracy, Dunedin, Economics, Finance, Geography, Infrastructure, Media, Name, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Pet projects, Politics, Project management, Property, Public interest, Resource management, Travesty, What stadium

5 responses to “Delta #EpicPowerFail : Delta fulfils Adam Smith’s 1776 Prophecy

  1. nick

    Another chapter in this company’s dysfunctional management and governance story.

    If it was not continually propped up by the guaranteed and lucrative income stream of Lines Charges, it would have disappeared years ago.

    As an aside, Aurora decided in 2013 to exclude private electrical contractors from connecting new irrigation pumps to its Central Otago network – simply because it was not getting any of this work (unable to compete with private enterprise).

    The Commerce Commission began an investigation into Aurora’s breach of the Commerce Act over this matter, but Aurora retracted from this policy in April 2016 before the ComCom had completed its determination. They remain on notice, with a warning over this matter.

  2. russandbev

    Yet another clear example of Aurora/Delta neglecting its core functions in preference to pursuing what it sees as far more important functions such as the irreversible rise of obscene salaries and the lack of director oversight and policy setting. This organisation either needs to be sold or the City take responsibility and clean out the existing directors and management. No other solution.

    I do see the ODT writing a belated story and really it is more than time that the newspaper devotes some resource to truly investigative journalism. It might not be comfortable, but surely the 4th estate should not be in a “comfortable” relationship with the organisation that has saddled its funders with the 2nd highest debt level of any local body.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      ODT needs to be relevant even if it’s uncomfortable.
      DCC advertising – nobody pays for advertising in media that are dwindling due to lack of relevance.
      ODT needs to make a choice for its own survival – bite the DCC hand when appropriate, or retreat into further blandness. It’s the only place local matters are regularly reported, or it would be if it weren’t for the growing strength of alternatives such as What If and other online sources. And why are they growing? Because ODT is patsying around being inoffensive, not asking the medium-hard questions. Hard questions no fecking way, hides head under beanbag and recites Khalil Gibran till knocking-off time.

  3. Your readership will be appalled at the silence of the ODT. Presumably the ODT will excuse themselves by saying they wanted to research more fully before going to print. Rubbish! What they are doing is covering Mr Cull. I thought that before the election and now here is plain evidence to show it’s happening. The police are not squeaky clean either because they turned their back once they and DCC admin and the then mayor could use the suicide of Mr Bachop as aa excuse for no go zone. Heads should have rolled. People voted in ignorance about what is really going on.

  4. Tussock

    Let’s not forget where all this started. The Chin / Brown led council for the stadium. All the council owned companies had to borrow to prop up the stadium, to the detriment of maintaining their own infrastructure. Delta is a prime example of that. We are all now paying. Some with their lives, for a mad hatter led council, led by the nose by a rugby union.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s