Two ORC directors' jobs disestablished

Selva Selvarajah.
Selva Selvarajah.
Two Otago Regional Council directors, who together have 22 years' experience with the organisation, have lost their jobs in restructuring led by new chief executive Peter Bodeker.

Dr Selva Selvarajah and Dr John Threlfall, who deal with the council's consent processes and environmental science, in particular concerning water quality and quantity, respectively, will leave within the next few weeks.

They are going through the redundancy process and said they were disappointed by the disestablishment of their roles but did not want to comment further.

Both had families and hoped to stay in Dunedin.

Mr Bodeker said he was not prepared to comment on the loss of the pair's jobs, commenting that, overall, the restructuring would add three extra staff to the organisation.

The restructuring was aimed at angling the organisation so it could successfully implement its water quality and quantity plan changes during the next six or seven years, he said.

John Threlfall.
John Threlfall.
''It is crucial to have better integration of the executive roles. This restructure will expedite and improve the delivery of these work programmes, which already overlap.''

The changes came into effect yesterday.

Under the restructuring, four directors' positions had been ''disestablished'' and replaced by two. A new stakeholders engagement directorate, which was being advertised externally, had been created.

The two ''new'' directorates combined the work of Drs Selvarajah, who had been with the council for 13 years, and Threlfall, who had been with the council nine years, with that of existing directors.

Fraser McRae will add the Resource Management Act work of Dr Selvarajah to his policy portfolio under a new title: director policy, planning and resource management.

Dr Gavin Palmer will take on Dr Threlfall's environmental information and science work alongside his existing hazards and engineering work as director engineering, natural hazards and science.

The only directorate to escape major changes was that of corporate services director Wayne Scott. Jeff Donaldson's regional services directorate was renamed environmental monitoring and operations.

The new stakeholders directorate would incorporate communications and community liaison activities previously included in Dr Threlfall's directorate and across other directorates.

Peter Taylor's associate directorate in strategic communications and education had been disestablished and his role was now communications manager.

Nicola McGrouther would lead the land resources team and the implementation of plan change 6A, while Marian Weaver, a resource management procedural specialist, would lead an equivalent team in implementing plan change 1C, he said.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said it was not appropriate to comment on what was the chief executive's decision.

''It is up to him to put a team in place to fulfil the council's objectives and work programmes.''

2nd class citizens

Trippy: that's really rather my point. Of course the "stakeholders" should be all of the public, but instead we get certain parts of the community cherry-picked to take part. Remember back to the stadium process - there was a stakeholder committee, the Uni, the ORFU, CST, but no one was on that committee from the public. Dissenting voices were just not invited, even after people marched in the street. The current DCC Dunedin economic plan grew out of a series of catered "stakeholder meetings" in which particular people around town were personally invited while the general public were excluded.

The take away I get from the local authorities designating some people "stakeholders" and some people not is that I'm somehow lesser, not a stakeholder, in my own community. I see it as the DCC, ORC et al creating two classes of citizens - those they choose to listen to and those they choose to ignore.

Mystery solved?

Far be it for me to (generally) comment on things that I have few facts upon, however, it seems to me that MikeStk has overlooked the obvious in his lamentations. It seems to me that although he has talked around it, and taken the opportunity to throw his own personal spin upon it, MikeStk has failed to ask the obvious question: Who are the ORC's stakeholders?

The irony is that we need look no further than MikeStk's own rhetoric, or, for that matter, this very article to find the answer:  The ORC's stakeholders are the public, and so the 'Stakeholder Engagement Directorate' would then seem to be the branch of the Regional Council directly involved in communicating with and educating the ratepayers. 

After all, what does this very article say? "The new stakeholders directorate would incorporate communications and community liaison activities previously included in Dr Threlfall's directorate and across other directorates. "

And then there's the Media release from the ORC website: "In addition a new position, Director, Stakeholder Engagement, would be advertised that would oversee the council’s communications and community liaison activities." And a little further down:  Mr Bodeker said ORC delivered a huge range of services to the community. “I want to ensure we strengthen our connection to our communities and deliver our programmes effectively to everyone using council services.”

So it seems to me that far from selecting Stakeholders to represent the ratepayers, Mr Bodeker's aims are to increase participative democracy rather than hold a stake to it.


Ericson: "Stakeholder" is a funny word, I've seen enough vampire movies to know that it simply refers to the guy who's holding the stake.

In Dunedin local  body parlance it seems to refer to a group of people chosen from the community in a non-democratic manner to tell the powers that be what to do. In past years this was done in secretly in smoke-filled rooms, but in our modern smoke free environment they have to be named as they catch a quick puff on the street outside the doors of power.

In an ideal world the council would not be selecting stakeholders to represent us but would instead solicit input from every citizen in the community. In our case I think they're holding their stake to the heart of our participative democracy.

Stakeholders engagement directorate

It is very pleasing to see (ODT Dec 10) that the new CEO for the Otago Regional Council is undertaking a restructuring process which includes “a new stakeholders engagement directorate”.  Since I did not know what this phrase meant I googled it.  Unfortunately the only hit referred me to the same ODT article. However, when I included  the apostrophe I found one other occurrence of the phrase  - on the website of the which includes as its subheading “we help you say the right things to the right people at the right time” – so all  is explained.

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