Tag Archives: Public Debate

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 Matthews is currently constructing his response to the unpublished, but complete, Wevers investigation.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/

Related Posts and Comments:
19.7.17 Southern Police : Nothing changed since Tom Lewis wrote Coverups & Copouts
18.7.17 Delta | Infinity | CCC staff collude to defeat Yaldhurst residents (again)
23.5.17 Topical debates on Corruption in New Zealand
22.2.17 Some Councils/CCOs get cleanup from FRAUD and CORRUPTION #NotAll
9.12.16 Auckland corruption charges proved —ring any bells? #South
28.1.16 New Zealand local government T-shirt #haze #corruption
20.9.15 Corruption serious threat to New Zealand #CAANZ
14.9.15 Screening tonight: Paradigm Episode 2! Local Government Corruption in NZ #Sky #YouTube
23.7.15 Publicise: laudafinem.org
13.5.14 Stuff: Colin Espiner usefully defines Corruption

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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Topical debates on Corruption in New Zealand

At Twitter:

Other media items:
22.5.17 Can the Auditor-General be trusted to combat corruption?
21.2.17 NZH: Ex Ministry of Transport manager jailed for $726k fraud
26.8.16 Former Ministry of Transport fraudster denied bail

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Read Bryce Edwards’ full opinion piece linked below, and the associated reference links.

It’s Worth Your While Dunedin
Because you know instances of this bigger story, and you know them well.

The following is an abridgement.

This website has bolded some words provided by Mr Edwards and the commentators he cites. Words that bloggers increasingly have a ‘steam problem’ to include in everyday use of the English language.

So much for district heating schemes, eh.

### NZ Herald 2:48 PM Tue May 23, 2017
Political Roundup: The unaccountability of elites
Politics
By Bryce Edwards
OPINION —How much accountability is there in New Zealand politics and public life? Not enough, it seems, going on recent controversies. Mistakes by those in authority can lead to disasters and misfortunes of various magnitudes. Yet a number of recent examples – ranging from the Pike River tragedy through to the Havelock North water contamination crisis – suggest that there is often a worrying lack of consequences or accountability for the authorities involved.
Following on from yesterday’s Political Roundup column about managers failing to prevent serious fraud in a government department (Can the Auditor-General be trusted to combat corruption?); an obvious question is whether New Zealand has a culture in which there’s a lack of accountability for elites who make serious mistakes.
This need for this question is further underlined by Peter Newport’s strongly argued opinion piece, Is fraudster Joanne Harrison’s old boss really fit to lead NZ’s top public watchdog? In this must-read piece published yesterday, Newport details all of the whistle-blowing attempts to alert Ministry of Transport managers to the crimes being committed in the government department, and how those whistle-blowers then lost their jobs, seemingly as a result. Reading Newport’s account, it seems that much of the fraud was entirely preventable. He asks: “Where was human resources? The Public Service Association? The police? The SFO? The auditor general? The chief executive? This all happened in a modern New Zealand government ministry. In the full light of day.”
He concludes that “the chief executive, and his successor, have consistently refused to properly investigate either what she got away with or the further systemic failings behind the scenes… It’s disgusting. Where does the buck stop and who gets the whistle-blowers their jobs back?”
….[break]
Part of New Zealand’s democratic deficit relates to a lack of a culture of accountability in public life and governance. According to Karl du Fresne, “Accountability, the long-established principle that someone should be seen to take responsibility for serious mistakes, is frequently talked about but rarely practiced” – see his column, Accountability the price of keeping the system honest. He makes some important points about the apparent decline in standards of accountability in political and public life in New Zealand, pointing out that the end result, is “public confidence in ‘the system’ continues to be steadily eroded.” This is a major democratic problem, says du Fresne: “If no one ends up accepting personal responsibility and incurring a penalty, there’s little incentive to make sure it doesn’t happen again. […] Part of the problem is that “genuine political commentary and critical analysis in New Zealand has been eroded almost to the point of non-existence over the past few decades”. This is the view of Bob Gregory of the Victoria University of Wellington, who links the decline of accountability to the decline of public debate and information…..
….[break]
So, does all of this lack of accountability mean that New Zealand is possibly more vulnerable to corruption than people assume? This is discussed by former parliamentary staffer Grant McLachlan in his opinion piece, NZ should raise the bar on corruption. McLachlan suggests that New Zealand isn’t well protected from corruption: “Our processes to deal with corruption are flawed. […] When a judge in our highest court doesn’t declare a conflict of interest, the Attorney-General shouldn’t offer the judge a golden handshake to save the taxpayer the cost of an inquiry. When a dodgy mine explodes killing 29, out-of-court payments should not influence the dropping of a prosecution. The Protected Disclosures Act was meant to protect good faith whistle-blowers when reporting ‘serious wrongdoing’. Poor internal processes, however, have resulted in witch-hunts and whitewashes.”
….[break]
Finally, does the culture of misinformation and opaque politics play a part in limited accountability? Graham Adams thinks so, and says that there’s good reason for being appalled by the deception that comes out of government these days. He says “Kept in the dark and fed endless bullshit, it’s difficult for even engaged citizens to make sense of much in New Zealand’s public and political life” – see: Information underload: We’re all mushrooms now.
Read more

█ Bryce Edwards, until recently a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago, researches and critiques New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on ‘Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation’. He is currently working on a book entitled ‘Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power’. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

[picdn.net]

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DCC meeting and apology NOT Enough— #SouthDunedinFlood

Election Year : The following post is offered in the public interest. -Eds

Received today.

android-email-app [carleton.ca]From: Hilary Calvert
To: Dave Cull
Cc: Golds [Godfrey Dodd], All Elected Members, Vaughan Elder [ODT]
Subject: Re: Flooding

Thanks for copying us in.

May we know when you requested that the mudtanks were cleaned thoroughly?

I had thought that it was an initiative from Ruth Stokes, as part of the looking into and reporting back on the flood.

I am also interested in your “fact” that the stormwater system is not capable even at optimal condition and performance……. Do you mean that it was not then, or that it would not be even if we made adjustments and sorted out the mudtanks and fixed the screen/pump and made changes which we have signalled to the general stormwater system which flows through South Dunedin?

If council modelling showed the extent of the flooding would be precisely as it was in the event of that magnitude, what relevance had the problems with the screen/pump and the mudtanks? I guess all the problems in South Dunedin during the flood were localised problems and many of them as a result of water lying about, so did our modelling show that as well?

I understood that there was still more work to be done to understand what we could best do particularly about the interconnection between the water from various sources and what we could afford of the options available.

Do you see the governance part of the Council completely blameless in this process?
Since you have apparently arranged for the mudtanks to be cleared, surely you/we could have done something sooner.

Do we have a role at all in your view, apart from advising people they are wrong when it turns out we may have incomplete information?

As seems true for all of the information surrounding this horrible flood, the more information we receive the more questions we have.

Kind regards,

Hilary

_______________________________

On 26/04/2016, at 5:30 AM, Dave Cull wrote:

Dear Mr Dodd,
Thank you for your email. I am puzzled by the apparent assertion that I have blamed the 2015 June flooding on Climate Change. While that may be the root cause I don’t recall saying that. The cause of the flooding, as has finally been comprehensively reported (for a meeting today) was the fact that the stormwater system in South Dunedin is not capable, even at optimum condition and performance, of coping with the amount of rain that fell over that period. That is a simple calculation given the capacity of the system in both volume and pumping terms, and the severity of the event. The mudbank maintenance failure was reprehensible from both a contractor and staff oversight perspective, especially as exactly the same issue had been raised some four years ago and assurances given that it would not happen again. The fact that some mudbanks were not up to scratch may have caused some localised problems and perhaps prolonged the water lying, but they did not cause the extent of the flooding. That was exactly as Council’s modelling showed it would be in an event of that magnitude.
Six years ago Council received reports stating (among other conclusions) two things. First that more frequent and severe rain events were likely. Second that the stormwater system in South Dunedin was not capable of handling those. So flooding was very likely. Last year the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment issued a report showing that rising ground water, pushed up by sea level rise will increasingly afflict South Dunedin.
It’s most important to recognise that while stormwater and groundwater can each affect the other, they are different and have different causes.
The failure was operational and managerial as Council was repeatedly assured that maintenance was up to scratch.
Council’s challenge now is to address both stormwater and groundwater issues. We have already, at my request, ensured that the stormwater system is in the best shape possible as winter approaches, by having all the mudbanks cleaned properly. Additionally the screen at the Portobello Rd pumping station, which was blocked by debris carried by the overwhelming amount of water, will be replaced by July.
Council will consider that report which has taken such a frustratingly long time to get to us, and determine the next necessary steps.
At your request I have copied this to all elected members.

Dave Cull

_______________________________

From: Golds [Godfrey Dodd]
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2016 7:07 PM
To: mayor @dcc.govt.nz
Subject: FW: Flooding

Dear Mayor
I am sending you this email in that it may make you understand how one ratepayer views your complete failure in the flooding in South Dunedin
WE all know that climate warming is a fact but your glib PR spin and articles in the paper does nothing for your credibility and your lack apology shows that you and the council do not except responsibility for this lack of governance
It is sad that only one of the council appears to have enough bottle to ask you to do in an old fashion way the decent thing
My wish is that you pass this email as part of an agenda item a the next council meeting on how one ratepayer views your lack of understanding in the way a Mayor should carry out his role
I would interested in your reply

Regards
Godfrey Dodd

_______________________________

From: Golds [Godfrey Dodd]
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2016 10:00 AM
To: Andrew Whiley [DCC]
Subject: Flooding

Hi Andrew
It is with disappointment reading the failure of governance by the council I was a chairman in those days that was the title of a high school board If the school had a problem which effected the community you had to stand up and take the blame
I do not expect the council elected members to clean mud tanks but when there is failure of this size then the expectation of the community that something is seriously wrong with the governance of the council The glib excuses as regards rise in sea level is the catch cry of the council which you as a member are part of
In my view the council members should of put on gumboots and gone out with the CEO and inspected the mud tanks instead of waiting a year for a report It saddens me to find that people in South Dunedin were not accorded this Instead we had articles written that showed how out of touch the council members were These articles were part of the green PR spin which now blights any decision that this particular council makes All that was needed was clean mud tanks and clear governance by the members of the council not excuses I hope that this is a lesson that you as a council member takes on board when making decisions in the future
Kindest Regards

Godfrey Dodd

ODT 25.4.16 (letter to the editor)

ODT 25.4.16  Letter to editor Vandervis p10

Tue, 26 Apr 2016
ODT: Vandervis forcing mud-tank issue [+ Letters]
A series of emails released by Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis show he was raising concerns about the state of Dunedin’s mud-tanks as long ago as 2011. Cr Vandervis said he released the emails because only publicity forced the council to change its ways. “This publicity is going to make sure it really is sorted once and for all this time.” The release of the emails follows a report released by the Dunedin City Council last week into last June’s flood, which found 75% of mud-tanks in South Dunedin were not properly maintained.

Tue, 26 Apr 2016
ODT: Staff apology for mud-tank failure
Council staff were responsible for not properly overseeing mud-tank maintenance in South Dunedin, not councillors or the mayor, a senior staff member says. Council infrastructure and networks general manager Ruth Stokes started today’s council infrastructure services committee meeting by apologising on behalf of council staff for the failings identified in a report on last June’s flood. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and Crs David Benson-Pope and Lee Vandervis were among those who had raised mud-tank performance prior to the South Dunedin floods, and been given incorrect information by staff. “For that I would like to, on behalf of the executive, apologise,” Ms Stokes. The failure was a management failure and not governance one, she said.

lee pushing head in mudtank words [Douglas Field 26.4.16] detailDouglas Field 26.4.16 (detail)

Comment at ODT Online:

Mayor Dave Cull outraged
Submitted by JimmyJones on Tue, 26/04/2016 – 1:49pm.

Mayor Cull says he is outraged at the failure of Fulton Hogan and council staff to adequately ensure that the mudtanks were in working condition. He should also be outraged at his own poor leadership and failure to respond to developing problems. Under his leadership the city continued to build up a backlog of worn-out stormwater pipes and equipment waiting for funding to be allocated. With this lack of funding we have seen the inevitable result of a deteriorating stormwater system. The poor state of the stormwater system was the primary cause of the severity of the flooding at Kaikorai, Mosgiel and South Dunedin last year.

This under-funding of the stormwater renewals is not an accident. Every year the DCC Mayor and councillors decide and vote on this spending – and every year they vote to under-fund the stormwater renewals because they think that a new stadium and a new swimming pool and more bicycle lanes are more important than a functioning stormwater system. The Annual Plan shows that the under-funding will continue next year. Expect the deterioration to continue.

Related Post and Comments:
20.4.16 DCC Politics : Release of Infrastructure Report #SouthDunedinFlood

█ For more, enter the term *flood* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Email image: carleton.ca – android-email-app

53 Comments

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DCC Politics : Release of Infrastructure Report #SouthDunedinFlood

Election Year : The following post is offered in the public interest. -Eds

Flooding South Dunedin June 2015 photo by Paul Allen [listener.co.nz]Photo: Paul Allen

New Report [excerpt]—
DCC Flood Report 2 (2016) excerpt

Next meeting of the Infrastructure Services Committee will be held on Tuesday, 26 April 2016 at 1:30 pm or at the conclusion of the Planning and Regulatory Committee meeting (whichever is later) – Edinburgh Room, Municipal Chambers

PUBLIC AGENDA
1 Public Forum (page 4)
2 Apologies (4)
3 Confirmation of Agenda (4)
4 Declaration of Interest (5)
PART A REPORTS (Committee has power to decide these matters)
●● 5 South Dunedin Public Infrastructure Performance during June 2015 Flood Event Follow up (6-27)
6 Recycling Markets and Bin Contamination (28)
7 Northern Wastewater Schemes’ Options (34)
PART B REPORTS (Committee has power to recommend only on these items
8 Resolution to Stop a Portion of Peel Street, Allanton (44)
9 Road Name – Three Hills Subdivision (54)
PART A REPORTS (Committee has power to decide these matters)
10 Notification of Agenda Items for Consideration by the Chair

Agenda – ISC – 26/04/2016 (PDF, 6.3 MB)
The agenda and reports are located together in this file.

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Report on South Dunedin infrastructure performance during June 2015 flood released

This item was published on 20 Apr 2016

The report on the South Dunedin infrastructure performance during the June 2015 flood event was released today as part of the agenda for the Infrastructure and Services Committee meeting next week.

The report concludes that while a number of factors contributed, the main factor was the highest 24-hour rainfall total in Musselburgh since 1923.

General Manager Infrastructure and Networks Ruth Stokes says the report outlines the known challenges with managing the South Dunedin catchment and highlights concerns about the performance of mudtanks and the Portobello Road pumping station during the event.

“Changes in the South Dunedin catchment since the stormwater network was designed, combined with operational challenges and high ground water levels, all contributed to the effects of the extreme rainfall event that occurred in June 2015.”

Mrs Stokes says the report shows that mudtanks weren’t maintained as required. As a result, a number of steps, including a full review and retendering of road maintenance contracts have been adopted. Other measures include accurately capturing data on the status of the mudtanks, a redesign of the Portobello Pumping station screen and the development of a communications plan to inform the community of the local infrastructure challenges and how to best plan for future events.

“However, given the volume of rainfall and the system at capacity during the June event, the water would have been unable to enter the network even if all mudtanks were clear.”

She says the DCC must now look at what measures can be taken to mitigate such events in future.

The DCC will soon be engaging with the community about these issues and what the long term responses might be.

Contact Ruth Stokes, General Manager Infrastructure and Networks on 477 4000.

DCC Link

Otago Daily Times Published on Jun 4, 2015
Raw aerial video of Dunedin Flooding
Video courtesy One News.

█ For more, enter the term *flood* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

94 Comments

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Hammered from all sides #fixit [dunedinflood Jun2015]

Here following, reference is made to newspaper items of facts-laden
STRONG OPINION —

This website, What if? Dunedin, and its contributors, MAY reference and offer comment. Three words: Human Rights Legislation.

“Let’s sort the systems and the decision-making, get our house in order and get some accountability happening quick-smart.”

### ODT Online Tue, 5 Jan 2016
Lessons must be learnt from flooding
The cost of the Dunedin floods is now well over $30million.
By Clare Curran
OPINION The Dunedin floods of June 3 should not have occurred with such devastating effects for so many. But it did. And the lack of response from Dunedin Civil Defence has simply posed more questions than answers. South Dunedin has long been a community of labourers – workers who epitomise the stoic and egalitarian attitude New Zealand prides itself on. It is communities like these which embrace a firm “can-do” attitude, staunch, resilient, and humble. It is for these people, this hard-hit community, along with those in Mosgiel, Brighton and other parts of Dunedin that answers are needed.
Read more

Clare Curran has summed up well.
A highly recommended read. She’s on the very problem.

█ (Monday) Highly critical of DCC’s response to last June’s Dunedin floods.
█ (Tuesday) Slams the Civil Defence response and calls for accountability.

Yesterdays’s column — no ODT link available:

ODT 4.1.16 Opinion Clare Curran MP p7 (1)

The infrastructure performance report the Member of Parliament refers to on Monday is available at the DCC website – THE REPORT IS IN PUBLIC DOMAIN [FACT].

Go to http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/
1. Click on the tab Your Council in the top menu bar.
2. In the new window click on Agendas, reports & minutes.
3. In the new window, go to Committee, select Council [in the drop down menu].
4. Enter the date 30/11/2015 in both the From and To date boxes.
5. Enter the Document Type by using the drop down menu, select Report.
6. Enter the word infrastructure in the Keyword box.
7. Click on Search.

The report appears as a downloadable PDF file.
THE REPORT WAS TABLED TO MAYOR AND COUNCILLORS ON 30 NOVEMBER 2015 IN THE OPEN SECTION OF THE FULL COUNCIL MEETING.

█ Other essential reading – official information released by Dunedin City Council to Elizabeth Kerr:

3.11.15 South Dunedin Flood | Correspondence & Debriefing Notes released by DCC today #LGOIMA

Otago Daily Times Published on Jun 4, 2015
Raw aerial video of Dunedin Flooding
Video courtesy One News.

█ For more, enter the terms *flood* and *south dunedin* in the search box at right.

Respectfully, All

Douglas Field Published Jan 5, 2016 | Republished Aug 17, 2016
Clare on phone
Local MP has had the ‘run around’ from the local authority regarding flooding in South Dunedin.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

51 Comments

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10,000

Sometime today while the protest was on this site passed through the 10,000 visitors barrier, yippie. Yeah don’t split yourself laughing, it’s not big really, but it’s an important issue for this city and here’s hoping someone’s worries have been alleviated or hopefully not confirmed. At least there is discourse and dialogue. Cheers all, much appreciated.

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