Dunedin city councillors are pointing fingers after some were
blindsided by a $3.2 million loss by the company running
Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Some councillors spoken to by the Otago Daily Times
yesterday admitted they were unaware they had accepted
reports detailing the loss at Monday's council meeting. Other
councillors were aware of the reports, but were still yet to
read them properly.
The ODT yesterday reported Dunedin Venues Management
Ltd's annual report - detailing the loss - had slipped
through Monday's council meeting without questioning or
Councillors yesterday confirmed they had received the report
during a private briefing by Dunedin City Holdings Ltd chief
executive Bevan Dodds and chairman Denham Shale last week.
However, some were unaware they had them, as the DVML report
- and another from Dunedin Venues Ltd - were not mentioned
during the DCHL briefing.
The two companies were not technically part of the DCHL
group, and the DVML report was at the bottom of a bundle of
reports from DCHL's companies, given out at the end of the
DVML was also not mentioned on Monday's council meeting
agenda, and the DVML report was not circulated publicly - or
to media - ahead of the meeting, as required by the Local
That meant the reports were accepted without debate, and, as
a result, some councillors were not even aware they had done
so, it was confirmed yesterday.
Council chief executive Paul Orders said yesterday the
situation was a mistake, not a conspiracy, but not
acceptable. He had contacted Mr Dodds and DVML chief
executive Darren Burden yesterday to discuss the situation.
"We did not deal with this as well as we could have. The
council is not interested in excuses. We need to do better
and on this occasion we got it wrong."
However, Cr Paul Hudson, the ousted DCHL chairman, yesterday
launched a broadside at his colleagues, claiming most were
not interested in, or could not understand, such reports.
"That's their responsibility and they've got to take
responsibility for the information they've been given and the
way it's presented.
"I don't think they received the attention they should
receive when they come to the council table."
Cr Kate Wilson shot back, saying she could not speak for
other councillors, but she "didn't hear him ask any
Cr Hudson said it was inappropriate to do so, given his
removal from DCHL last year.
"I'm being very careful about not interfering and creating
waves in public, because that's not appropriate for me to be
doing that, even in my role as a councillor."
He was aware DVML's report was going to Monday's meeting,
but, asked if he had read it from cover to cover, said: "No,
of course not. I used to have to. I don't have to now."
Cr Richard Thomson said he was unaware of DVML's report until
after Monday's meeting, as he did not know it was among the
bundle of information from DCHL.
He did not go through the reports because "I felt I
understood all I needed to know" from the DCHL briefing.
"I have read them now."
Cr Hudson was "entitled to his opinion", but many councillors
would "find it difficult to understand the financial
accounts", Cr Thomson said.
"I've got a better knowledge than most, but I'm not an
accountant, and I find it difficult at times."
Cr Bill Acklin had not read the reports by Monday's meeting,
either, and was still yet to.
"If you're talking about every page, no, but I don't think
this is about me reading reports. We've been obviously kept
up to date along the way with different briefings about where
things are at."
Asked when the last briefing was, he said he would "have togo
back to my diary".
Cr Neil Collins said he had "skimmed through" the reports,
but was reluctant to comment.
"There's nothing that can be done, really. I guess wiser
minds than mine know what they are doing."
Cr Syd Brown said the DVML report appeared to have "fallen
through the cracks".
He had read it, but only after Monday's council meeting, when
alerted to it by council staff.
"That was on my to-do list, to look through those reports in
depth, and I hadn't got to them [by Monday]."
Cr Andrew Noone had read the DCHL chairman's report and the
summaries from other companies, including DVML, ahead of
Cr Jinty MacTavish was unaware of DVML's report until Monday
night, so did not ask questions during Monday's council
meeting, but had skim-read it yesterday.
However, she had spent a day examining DCHL's report ahead of
the meeting, and did not accept Cr Hudson's criticism as
"fair criticism of me".
Mayor Dave Cull had also only skim-read DVML's report, but
also did not think Cr Hudson's criticism was fair.
"The only person ... any councillor can speak about is
In so far as he said that, I can only assume he's talking