Category Archives: Aurora Energy

Rainy Day reading —The Spinoff : Ministry of Transport fraud case

The ever-deepening storm centred on the Joanne Harrison fraud case just became a hurricane. Yesterday’s State Services Commission investigation report is likely to trigger a new chain of events that could extend well beyond embattled Auditor General Martin Matthews, writes Peter Newport

### thespinoff.co.nz July 21, 2017
Politics
The Ministry of Transport fraud case: Why the rot goes deeper than Joanne Harrison
By Peter Newport | Contributing writer
The State Services Commission investigation, published yesterday, makes one thing very clear: Joanne Harrison influenced the exit of four fellow Ministry of Transport employees who tried to tell their bosses that she was a fraudster. She managed to hire friends and steal over $700,000 from the ministry despite numerous staff attempting to call attention to her actions. This all happened while she was reporting directly to then-chief executive Martin Matthews, who is now our auditor general – albeit on temporary leave. The Commission has now apologised and is offering compensation to those former staff members. Its report also highlights many other issues at the Ministry, arguing that the 17-year-old legislation that covers whistleblowers needs to be changed and improved.

A second investigation, into whether Martin Matthews is a suitable person to continue as auditor general, is due from Sir Maarten Wevers in the coming days. Matthews is currently constructing his response to the unpublished, but complete, Wevers investigation. He has been given until the end of this week to complete it.

The Harrison case has some similar dynamics to the Todd Barclay drama. It’s become less about the initial problem than how it was handled. Who told the truth and who tried to obscure or even bury the truth. The difference with the Harrison situation is that she is now in jail and the truth is coming out – fast.

The Spinoff has been looking at exactly who did what, and when. That job has been made easier by a new, recent MOT whistle-blower who has produced and provided to us a detailed timeline noting all the evidence, which we publish here, utilising material released by the Ministry of Transport and available to view here. The same whistle-blower has shared a bizarre insight into Martin Matthews’ statements during his time at the Ministry of Transport.

But first, a quick tour of the jigsaw puzzle of documents that reveal a picture of Martin Matthews being given not clues, or hints, but what appear to be multiple solid facts that highlighted Joanne Harrison as a Grade A con artist and thief.
Read more

Founded in 2014, The Spinoff is New Zealand’s fastest growing media startup, amassing a monthly New Zealand audience of over 500,000 in less than three years.
We’ve assembled a team of agenda-setting journalists and critics, working across text, audio and video to create a true 21st century media brand. In just two years, The Spinoff has been nominated for 24 Canon awards, winning six. Our growth has been driven by a creative editorial style and innovative business model, emphasising long-term relationships with like-minded brands and a close connection with a young, educated and urban audience. Duncan Greive won both NZ Marketing Magazine‘s Editor of the Year as well as the People’s Choice title for Editor and Media Visionary in their media issue, July 2017. The Spinoff also claimed the title for Digital Media Brand of the Year as well as the People’s Choice title for the same award.

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Comment received from russandbev
2017/07/21 at 10:52 am

The recent revelations about what happened to the whistleblowers in the Ministry of Transport have, I’d suggest, application in Dunedin. Think of the parallels. In the MoT case a manipulative person with a barely-hidden track record of fraud and vindictiveness as well as a well developed sense of entitlement goes about systematically defrauding a government department of close on 3/4 million dollars. Not through some incredibly complex fraud, but one of simply creating business that didn’t exist and creating invoices from them for services that were never provided. Not exactly something that would take a lot to investigate.

Whistleblowers blow the alarm whistles to their managers and nothing happens and the further up the chain the questions were asked, the more dismissive the denials became. Meantime the fraudster moves against the whistleblowers. The Head of the Ministry moves on to even more wondrous things as Auditor General (is that ironic or is that ironic?) and the Minister dismisses all suggestions of wrong-doing. Even the Speaker of the House who employs the Auditor General doesn’t want to get involved.

Now found that the whistleblowers were entirely vindicated by their concerns and they get private and public apologies and a confidential settlement to, in part, recompense them for their treatment by both a fraudster and by management and governance failures. The Protected Disclosures Act [2000] is supposed to protect whistleblowers in BOTH public and private sectors.

Now, I don’t think anyone is suggesting fraud in the case of Aurora/Delta and that should be made plain. However look at the track record of these companies. A fearful record of stupid property speculation costing many many millions which is still going on thanks to Yaldhurst. A willingness to go along with borrowing to supply dividends to the DCHL and the DCC. Decades of ignoring maintenance on the Aurora network closely linked to the governance requirements to minimise costs, maximise profits and supply dividends to build vanity projects by the owners and now the spendup of northwards of 3/4 billion dollars on urgent maintenance bought about these years of neglect.

And then think of the years and layers of denials that these things happened over. When Richard Healey found he could no longer keep working in the company because of all that was being hidden, he gets vilified by EVERYONE that should have listened. EVERYONE is in denial including his past Managers who continued to receive their grossly inflated salaries and those in governance – many of whom refused to even sit down with him and discuss his concerns.

Am I the only one to see the parallels in how a Ministry or a City company deals with whistleblowers? I wonder if we will ever see similar end results in the case of Richard Healey?

{Link added. -Eds}

Reply from Elizabeth
2017/07/21 at 1:02 pm

Not involving Aurora:

Charges of Constructive Fraud have been brought, by joinder, against Delta Utility Services Ltd in the Christchurch High Court by the caveators (original property owners of the Noble Subdivision) at Yaldhurst. The case proceeds.

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Transparency International New Zealand
http://www.transparency.org.nz/

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

1 Comment

Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, Commerce Commission, Construction, Corruption, Crime, Delta, Democracy, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Finance, Hot air, Housing, Infrastructure, Media, Name, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Perversion, Police, Politics, Project management, Property, Public interest, SFO, Transportation, Travesty, What stadium

Aurora Energy struggles to proofread #FastTrackPoleProgramme

At Facebook:

The ‘free’ publication didn’t arrive in letter boxes at lower Pitt St, Dunedin – some householders receive official mail through post slots in their front doors. Don’t tell me the mail distributors for Aurora – god, like Allied Press – refuse to deliver to door slots off the street (in clear safe public view) due to [their] perceived Health and Safety risks…. greater than dangerous poles ? [Unlike NZ Post, DX Mail and other Couriers who provide efficient direct service.]

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[Old stats, who would guess Aurora’s in such a financial and corporate mess?]

Aurora Energy is an electricity distribution company in Otago, New Zealand. Aurora Energy is owned by Dunedin City Holdings Limited on behalf on the Dunedin City Council. Aurora Energy is New Zealand’s sixth largest electricity distributor. Wikipedia

Formerly called: Dunedin Electricity Limited (1990-2003)
Industry: Energy
Predecessor: Waipori Falls Hydroelectric Company Ltd
Founded: June 26, 1990 in Dunedin, New Zealand
Headquarters: Dunedin, New Zealand
Key people:
– Grady Cameron (CEO)
– Stephen Thompson (Chairman) [previously, Ian Parton]
Revenue: $99.5 Million USD (2015)
Net income: $8.1 Million USD (2015)
Total assets: $413.9 Million USD
Total equity: $182.55 Million USD (2015)
Owner: Dunedin City Council
Parent organisation: Dunedin City Holdings Limited

Website: http://www.auroraenergy.co.nz/
Fast Track: http://www.auroraenergy.co.nz/about/major-projects/current-projects/fasttrack/

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Helterskelter Delta, solidly joined at Aurora’ hip, writes an open letter at page 3 of today’s ODT:

[click to enlarge]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

22 Comments

Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, Central Otago, Commerce Commission, DCC, DCHL, DCTL, Delta, Democracy, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Electricity, Finance, Geography, Health & Safety, Infrastructure, Name, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Politics, Project management, Public interest, Queenstown Lakes, Resource management, SFO, Technology, Travesty, What stadium

Aurora/Delta new directors

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
New directors appointed for Aurora and Delta boards

This item was published on 03 Jul 2017

Dunedin City Holdings Limited (DCHL) has appointed three new directors within its group as part of changes to the Aurora Energy and Delta Utility Services companies which take effect from today, Monday, 3 July. DCHL Board chair Graham Crombie says that Margaret Devlin and Brenden Hall have been appointed to the Aurora Board, while Steven Grave has been appointed to the Delta Board.

“There was strong interest in these vacancies, with a total of 80 applications received from throughout New Zealand and overseas. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to appoint three talented and experienced people to these roles.”

Mr Crombie says the board appointments have been made as a result of DCHL implementing one of the key recommendations from a Deloitte review of the companies’ network maintenance processes late last year. Deloitte recommended that Aurora and Delta should have different board members with no commonality of directors. As previously announced, current board members Steve Thompson and Dave Frow remain on the Aurora board only, with Mr Thompson as chair. Brian Wood and Trevor Kempton will remain on the Delta board only, with Mr Wood as transition chair. “The changes will see the companies fully separate with Aurora being the asset owning and management company, while Delta will revert to a contracting company. The skills required in each company from a governance perspective are different,” he says. “However, it is important that some continuity is maintained within the governance structures. The decision was therefore made early on to have two of the current directors move to each new board.” DCHL expects to make an appointment to fill the one remaining director vacancy on the Delta Board, within the coming weeks.

Director fees totalling $220,500 for Aurora and $204,000 for Delta, as recommended by an independent review by the Institute of Directors were approved by DCHL and endorsed by the Council. These fees compare to the current total fees for the combined companies of $258,250.

Contact DCHL Chair on 034774000 | Mobile: 0274363882
DCC Link

Media release – New directors appointed for Aurora and Delta boards
(PDF, 54.1 KB)

The A/D directors forever joined at the hip think they can tough it out by collecting fees.

Both the non-retiring and the newbies appear grey around the gills, deadhead controlling and incapable of clean governance.

Larks, it appears Mr Crombie is staying on at DCHL. Not enough lawn mowing at Clyde to wobble his wattles.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

3 Comments

Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, Commerce Commission, DCC, DCHL, Delta, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Electricity, Finance, Geography, Health & Safety, Hot air, Infrastructure, LTP/AP, Name, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Politics, Project management, Public interest, Queenstown Lakes, Technology, Tourism, Town planning, Travesty, Urban design, What stadium

LGNZ, don’t wish ‘his lordship’ on New Zealand #VoteRachelReese

[anonymous]

Local Government New Zealand chief executive Malcolm Alexander said there was no job description for the role of president. “It’s a governance role, chief representative and chief media spokesperson for the organisation.”

What has Mr Mayor achieved for South Dunedin following DCC’s mudtank/pump station fiasco – see 3 June 2015 FLOOD and his holus-bolus media pronouncements upon the Community of South Dunedin, their property assets and livelihoods. A brand new ratepayer-owned 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe was written off in a mysteriously “unreported” serious injury crash in the 2016/17 holiday period. His council is costing Dunedin ratepayers $20M+ pa to make the underutilised loss-making rugby stadium “work” (capital debt repayments and operational subsidies, see Intergenerational Debt). Continues major DCC spending spree on ‘nice to haves’ before addressing serious underspend on basic infrastructure (water and waste, roading). Without public explanation or consultation, presides over $100M being added to council group debt, as signaled in DCC’s LTP/Annual Plan 2017/18 projections. No prosecutions taken for the loss of 152+ DCC owned vehicles: Citifleet! Refuses to address council owned Aurora Energy’s programmed neglect of Otago’s power network, under the concerned regulatory eye of NZ Commerce Commission. Cr Vandervis was called a liar in public on three media-recorded occasions. Claims (media outburst) he is responsible for Jim O’Malley’s campaign to save the Dunedin Cadbury Factory. On it goes. —Meet bob the builder.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said in a letter to councils around the country she was nominated by Wellington Mayor Justin Lester and Matamata-Piako Mayor Jan Barnes.

### ODT Online Sat, 1 Jul 2017
Cull seeks LGNZ president role
By David Loughrey
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is in the running to become the next president of Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ). Mr Cull’s only competitor for the role is Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese. The news of his bid came in a letter to the Otago Regional Council in which he asked for support. A letter from Ms Reese also appears in the council’s agenda, laying out her ambitions for the role. ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said this week  he expected the council would give its vote to Mr Cull. LGNZ represents the national interests of councils in New Zealand. The organisation provides its members with advocacy and policy services, business support, advice and training. An LGNZ spokesman said an election would be held at the LGNZ general meeting on July 25, after an annual conference in Auckland, where the two mayors could present their cases.
Read more

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Source: ORC Agenda 20 Jun 2017 [screenshots – click to enlarge]

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A pre-trial hearing for the defamation case brought by Cr Lee Vandervis against Mayor Dave Cull was held in June. This involved setting of indemnity costs (a not insignificant sum) before the case may proceed to a judge-alone trial. Not a jury trial.

What does this mean?
In a trial by judge-alone, the judge takes on the role of “fact-finder” (determining admissibility of evidence pre-trial). All the evidence is presented to the sitting judge and he or she is responsible for determining the facts and delivering the verdict. In a judge-alone trial the court is required to give reasons for its decision.

In a jury trial, the jury is the fact-finder – that is, the jury is responsible for determining the relevant facts of the case and applying the law to reach a verdict of guilty or not guilty. The jury may be discharged from giving a verdict if it cannot agree. The role of the judge is to oversee and control the conduct of the trial in a general way. A jury is not required to and does not give reasons for its verdict.

Indemnity costs, at the discretion of the Court, are a complete reimbursement of all legal costs incurred. In general civil proceedings, indemnity costs are reserved for cases where a party has acted frivolously or improperly in the conduct of the proceedings….a very high threshold only satisfied in truly exceptional cases. [Sometimes the contract between the litigating parties over which they are arguing, will itself provide for indemnity costs.]

In hushed local terms, the ‘costs’ has meant some unrest between backers and their ‘party’.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

24 Comments

Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, Commerce Commission, DCC, Delta, Democracy, Dunedin, Economics, Electricity, Finance, Geography, Hot air, LGNZ, LTP/AP, Media, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Pet projects, Politics, Public interest, South Dunedin, Travesty, What stadium

Dunedin’s winter power bills —ODT calls for comment at Facebook

Read the many public comments received at the ODT Facebook page.
Are the higher bills because of the crisp weather ? Low levels of the hydro lakes ?
Or something more ‘sinister’ ?

What is the industry regulator, the Commerce Commission, saying.

Personal Aside:
I don’t heat my apartment – chosen because it’s constructed in brick, elevated, insulated, sunny and warm. Before you ask, I pay high market rent to live centrally. I’m a registered low user of power, receive 20% earlybird discounts, and enjoy guaranteed fixed rates on power charges for 12 months by agreement with my electricity supplier. Typically, my power use is constant across the seasons and the years (long-term renter at this address, 2003 to present). I can keep my power use low only because I have good health, lots of warm clothing and furnishings, and I stay active. I’m expecting huge price increases as Dunedin City Council owned Aurora Energy’s programmed neglect of the Otago power network really kicks in.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

1 Comment

Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, Commerce Commission, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Electricity, Geography, Health, Health & Safety, Housing, Infrastructure, Media, People, Property, Public interest, Technology

Site Notice : post(s) removal

Late this afternoon, Chapman Tripp, the commercial law firm, acting on behalf of their client Stephen Richard Thompson, requested the removal of two posts from the What if? Dunedin website.

Both posts have been removed.

The website owner unreservedly apologises to Mr Thompson for publication of this material in previous weeks.

An apology with account of steps taken to remove the material will be forwarded to Mr Thompson via the solicitors.

Elizabeth Kerr
Site Owner

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

The What if? Dunedin website https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/ is a blog about the social and built environment of Dunedin New Zealand.

38 Comments

Filed under Aurora Energy, Electricity, Infrastructure

RNZ Morning Report: Damning indictment of Aurora Energy #Listen

Aurora Energy has not maintained the lines utility because for years the company passed over lines profits in the form of dividends to DCC and subvention payments to cover Stadium debt servicing. Central Otago power users faced silly-huge increases in their lines charges. Otago power users, generally, having already paid for upgrades and renewals through their lines charges, have regrettably lost their safe and secure supply of electricity, and must now pay twice. The people responsible for this critical state of affairs need to explain and face the consequences.

How does this stack up for the Commerce Commission, the industry regulator ?

### rnz.co.nz Mon 12 Jun 2017
Morning Report with Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson
8:47 AM Many electric lines companies have outdated equipment -ComCom Link
A report by the Commerce Commission says many electric lines companies have outdated equipment that should have been replaced years ago. Our reporter Eric Frykberg has been looking into it.
Audio | Download: Ogg MP3 (3′29″)

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Commerce Commission New Zealand
Media Release 9 June 2017

The Commerce Commission has published one-page summaries of key performance measures for each of New Zealand’s 29 electricity lines companies.
The summaries are designed to promote a better understanding of each lines company’s performance by providing high-level statistics such as profitability, capital and operating expenditure, asset condition, revenue and network reliability.
Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said that the Commission has pulled together the data to make it easily accessible for industry, Government agencies and consumers, and to enable comparison across lines companies. The statistics are sourced from more detailed public disclosures.
“Electricity companies reach every New Zealand household and business so over time we want to make it easier for consumers to understand how their own lines company is performing year-on-year. The information in the summaries is still quite technical in nature, but we expect this kind of exposure will in itself help improve lines companies’ overall performance,” Dr Gale said.
“The summaries are a high-level snapshot of the lines companies and are not intended to represent a thoroughly detailed picture of performance. However, they suggest some differences between the performances of different lines companies, such as the health of assets including poles, lines and substation equipment. In cases of apparent poor performance, we will follow up with the companies to better understand their circumstances. We will also undertake further analysis in the future.”
The performance summaries are available on the Commission’s website.

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Performance summaries for electricity distributors
Under Part 4 of the Commerce Act these 29 electricity distributors are required to publicly disclose information to help people better understand how the sector is performing.

Click areas on the [interactive map at the ComCom website] to download the distributors’ 2016 performance summaries.

[screenshot only]

The performance summaries provide high level statistics on each lines companies’ performance, including measures such as profitability, capital and operating expenditure, asset condition, line charge revenue and network reliability.

See more details in the documents below.
← Back to Performance analysis and data for distributors

Documents
Explanatory notes for electricity distributors’ performance summaries – May 2017
(PDF, 464 KB) Published on 31 May 2017

Total electricity distribution 2016 – June 2017
(PDF, 488 KB) Published on 06 June 2017

Performance summaries for electricity distributors – May 2017
(MS Excel Spreadsheet, 2.1 MB) Published on 31 May 2017

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[screenshot, details]

Aurora Energy 2016 One Page summary

█ View Online: http://www.comcom.govt.nz/assets/Downloads/Aurora-Energy-2016-one-page-summary.pdf

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

Disclaimer. The site owner is not responsible for the currency or accuracy of content of contributed comments; and the inclusion of the information provided does not imply endorsement by the site owner.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

18 Comments

Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, Central Otago, Commerce Commission, Construction, DCC, DCHL, Delta, Democracy, Design, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Electricity, Finance, Geography, Health & Safety, Hot air, Infrastructure, Media, Name, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Perversion, Pet projects, Politics, Project management, Property, Public interest, Queenstown Lakes, Resource management, SFO, Stadiums, Structural engineering, Technology, Tourism, Town planning, Travesty, Urban design