Stadium under construction [photo via espnscrum.com]
Submitted on 2013/07/30 at 2:25 pm
Parliament’s speaker, David Carter:
“I view any actions that may put at risk journalists’ ability to report very seriously.”
Both Sir Eion Edgar and Sir Julian Smith have some explaining to do as to their “actions” in preventing the reporting of the information contained in the press release below which one of the ODT reporters contacted me about on 3 July 2013, asked me questions, then nothing being published in the ODT.
“Philanthropist” reneges on promised $1m donation
Full independent enquiry sought
The deceptions surrounding the Forsyth Barr Stadium continue to be revealed by official documents released on 11 June 2013.
The public, on many occasions raised doubts that the promises of private funding for construction of the stadium, had been met, but were assured by Mr Malcolm Farry, Chair of the Carisbrook Stadium Trust as reported in NBR and ODT 2007 that in fact several substantial donations had been promised. Indeed he went so far to tell the public that he had promises of three individual donations of $1 million each to be put to the costs of construction. Sir Eion Edgar also confirmed in DScene in 2009 that he would be making a donation of $1m.
That, as has now been revealed officially, was untrue.
It was also untrue as Mr Farry claimed when leading the project, that advance ticket or product sales revenue could be counted as construction capital. This was nothing other, as many ratepayers pointed out, simply advance operational revenue which could not be charged in the future. While Mr Farry denied this, the PricewaterhouseCoopers investigation found that there was little or no capital raised from ‘private funding’ for construction.
The relevance of this should not be lost when the evidence supplied to the High Court in Christchurch by the Carisbrook Stadium Trust through the DCC also stated that substantial private donations had been made for construction. At the time of the Stop The Stadium court case in April 2009, Mr Farry had stated publicly that more than $30m of the required $45m had already been contracted in private funding for construction of the stadium. It appears that evidence in the High Court case was also not truthful.
The role played by Forsyth Barr and its Chair, Sir Eion Edgar also come directly under a brighter spotlight from the release of the documentation. Sir Eion Edgar promised a substantial donation of $1m as reported in DScene 2009, but again this has proven not to be true. But this lack of philanthropy also extended to an obscuring of the facts surrounding the naming rights of the stadium. Despite Sir Eion Edgar claiming in the National Business Review (29/01/09) that a “substantial cheque” had been written for these rights, and The Marketing Bureau commissioned by the CST reporting to council the naming rights were worth $10m, the fact was that instead the stadium was named after his company for a period of two and a half years before any revenue was received. It has already been reported in the media that the naming rights were no more than $5m. An upfront substantial sum in advance reported in PwC peer reviews was somehow altered to a much lesser sum in monthly arrears payments which didn’t begin until late 2011.
Sir Edgar also had a significant role as President in his connections with the Otago Rugby Football Union when a fundraising function for the ORFU in August 2011 at the new Forsyth Barr Stadium defaulted in its payments to the Dunedin City Council leaving ratepayers to pick up the tab for booze, food, hireage and cleaning while the ORFU pocketed the gross income less a substantial organisational fee paid to the wife of the Deputy Chair of the ORFU, Laurie Mains.
While the PwC investigation was not intended to be a forensic audit of all financial matters surrounding the stadium, sufficient grounds now exist for such a full independent investigation to be carried out, and it is difficult to see just why this should be resisted unless some have got matters to try and continue to conceal. Doubts have also been expressed over the laxity of the billing and payment processes whereby blanket monthly CST accounts with no detail were passed for payment by the then CEO of the Dunedin City Council, Jim Harland, and there remains uncertainty over the validity of many of the expenses and other monies claimed for and paid by the ratepayers of the City.
Submitted on 2013/07/30 at 2:46 pm
Bev, quite apart from the content of the Press Release, are you saying the ODT journalist who contacted you about the release was lined up to do a story based on the content of the press release? Or that the editorial team did not support the reporter and canned the story as filed? Or for the newspaper’s own reasons there was never a story?! In other words, something of a spying mission took place?
Media can choose whether or not to cite the content of press releases in whole or in part.
Should a newspaper decline to reference a press release in its general news coverage, surely that leaves the writers of the release free to pay for an advertising statement. This is exactly what has been required with The Press in Christchurch over the fight to restore the Christ Church Cathedral – paid advertising by Cathedral advocates tied to education of the Press editor underlining the editorial bias which has run to the benefit of the Bishop and the CPT. We consider The Press’s stance deliberate to force use of paid advertising. The Press has softened since being SPOKEN TO.
Submitted on 2013/07/30 at 8:25 pm
Bev’s post needs as wide a circulation as possible and I would urge any readers to pass on the URL of this post to as many of their friends as possible, but it is as sure as God made little green apples, that the ODT will neither investigate nor publish anything that is detrimental to the interests of those that have certain influence and connections. I wonder if Sir Julian would be willing to show his phone records? Particularly those from the Central Otago region?
All of the material that Bev mentions regarding the naming rights is backed up by documentation – in fact so much of what Bev is talking about is now being played out in National politics with the Henry inquiry and Vance’s phone records. The story has to be dragged out before it is grudgingly admitted that a great wrong was done. And even then the perpetrators can’t get their story straight.
This is what I mean by accountability in many ways. Many have claimed that deceit, lies and obfuscation were just part of the normal business around the CST, DCC, ORFU and associated parties and it has also been suggested that this culture of deceit and lies extended to the High Court. Who am I to argue that this was not the case? But the same people’s names turn up time and time again. Reported are Farry, who continues to harangue from the side-lines, Edgar promising much and apparently confused between what is a donation and what is part of a payment for a sweetheart deal with the organisation of which he was part, or Harland, in the middle authorising payments on behalf of the ratepayers to the CST – a private Trust that remains a closed window.
And who is going to push for exposure of all the facts? We should be forever grateful for Bev’s assiduous work in prying out the necessary documentation and proof of what many have alleged for years. I can only hope that Bev Butler is, within the near future, able to ensure that any serious wrong-doing by those connected with the greatest waste of ratepayer funds, is put forward in a high profile way.
And if it can be shown in a separate jurisdiction that the allegations are well-founded – and I’m sure it can by the documentation that exists in private and on public record, then hopefully these people will be made accountable. But I’m not holding my breath.
Submitted on 2013/07/30 at 10:11 pm
Elizabeth, to now answer your questions – just briefly for now.
“The Edgar Story” was first published on Stuff News on Wednesday 3 July 2013. About an hour later the story was “pulled”.
Rarely does a story get “pulled” – it is generally due to major factual errors or a threat of defamation. As I know the information was correct then I assumed the latter.
I wrote to Fairfax management then emailed Forsyth Barr/Edgar’s lawyers. Two days later the story was published in The Mirror – a Central Otago Fairfax publication.
Interestingly, also on Wednesday 3 July an ODT reporter contacted me, questioning me about the Stuff News item. The reporter wanted to know who else I had sent the press release to. At the time I thought this was unusual – what did that have to do with reporting the news? I suspected that someone was wanting to do damage control behind the scenes. A week later I then heard from a good source that this was the case.
What really concerns me, apart from the serious issues in the press release, is the behind-the-scenes manipulation of ‘freedom of the press’. Dunedin citizens are no longer able to rely on the local media for local news. The damage done by this behind-the-scenes manipulation is dangerous. How this can be allowed to happen in a democratic society should be a concern for all in Dunedin. I don’t blame the reporter as he/she would have been instructed to question me.
Related Posts and Comments:
18.7.13 ODT won’t touch Fairfax story
3.7.13 [Pulled!] Call for Dunedin stadium cash
24.12.12 A Christmas Tale
7.6.12 Stadium: Forsyth Barr naming rights
6.7.09 Eion Edgar on ‘stadium haters’
11.5.12 $100m hotel for Dunedin waterfront [Edgar support]
11.5.12 Harbour hotel proposed for Dunedin
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr