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New problems at BNZ Harbour Quays building

We've received confidential minutes and a briefing via the tip-line relating to CentrePort’s problematic BNZ building which suggests the building will not be fully reoccupied until the end of October.

What should be one of Wellington’s most modern and safest buildings looks to be still plagued with problems eleven months after the Seddon earthquake.

We understand that CentrePort is having to fork out more ratepayer money on seismic restraints on the risers and that there are now new problems with windows popping out in Pier 3.

If ever you needed an argument as to why ratepayers should not be underwriting property development, the BNZ fiasco is it.

Greater Wellington needs to abandon its policy of secrecy and explain how much these problems at the BNZ building are costing ratepayers. Latest estimates are in the tens of millions.

In May the Taxpayers’ Union revealed that the Greater Wellington Regional Council guarantees CentrePort’s debt, including borrowings related to property development.

Click 'continue reading' to view the documents.

 

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Payments by Dunedin City Council to former MP with no documentation

This morning the Taxpayers’ Union went public with material concerning a payment (or payments) totalling $3,400 by the Dunedin City Council to former MP Pete Hogdson with no documentation or contract.

We're questioning the internal controls at the Council after the uncovering the payment following a recent media report that Mr Hodgson had been recruited by the Council for lobbying. We asked for information about the services being provided by Mr Hodgson under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. Click "continue reading" below to view the Council's response.

According to the Council, Mr Hodgson’s work consisted of “lobbying and advocating on behalf of the Council” and there is no supporting documentation. 

The Council has told us that:

  • Everything was verbal. The Council could not provide a single report, email, or even letter of engagement.
  • All of the contracts were negotiated verbally.
  • The contracts were negotiated by the Mayor and there is no documentation to explain the deal.

We asked for copies of any work by Mr Hodgson. All we got back was two letters by the mayor on which Mr Hodgson apparently had input. It is not clear what precisely that was. For example, there is no 'tracked changes" document.

We think Dunedin ratepayers will be alarmed that their Council paid $3,400 without so much as an invoice. We plan to write to the Mayor to to ask:

  • What did Mr Hodgson do? Was this just expensive proof reading?
  • Why was the Mayor negotiating this in the first place?
  • Why verbally?
  • Why is there absolutely no documentation for the arrangement, not even an email?
  • Is Mr Hodgson friends with the Mayor?
  • Why doesn't Dunedin Council have the most basic internal controls, requiring amounts to be paid by invoice only?

The Council’s response raises serious questions.  We can't think of another government agency that would spend $3,400 without being able to provide as much as an invoice. 

Without an explanation from the Council, we are left wondering whether the Auditor-General should get involved."

Dunedin City Council LGOIMA response - Pete Hodgson

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