The Mayor of Invercargill, Tim Shadbolt, says Environment
Southland chairman Ali Timms has damaged her credibility by
phoning him on a regional television talkback show posing as
Ruby, a mother of two whose husband had been made redundant
from the Tiwai Point aluminum smelter.
''I can't understand why she would do it. She is usually so
sensible . . . so rational and clear-headed. This was a lapse
of judgement,'' he said yesterday. Acting Environment
Southland chairman Nicol Horrell issued a statement yesterday
saying councillors had accepted her application for six
weeks' leave of absence.
''Councillors have unanimously expressed our extreme
disapproval of the unacceptable lapse of judgement shown by
chairman Ali Timms in taking part in the Invercargill City
Council's televised talkback programme under an assumed name
''We expect to hold an extraordinary meeting of council to
consider the council's chairmanship in late January,'' he
Ms Timms was not answering calls at her Lumsden home or
on her cellphone.
Asked if he thought Cr Timms should resign, Mr Shadbolt said
that was not for him or his council to decide.
However, he said it was ''probably an option Cr Timms would
think about during her leave of absence''.
Her hoax call could not have come at a worse time, he said,
referring to the Australian radio DJs' call to a London
hospital posing as members of the Royal Family which resulted
in a nurse committing suicide.
''If [Cr Timms'] call had been on April 1, then that might
have been all right. But the Australian-English situation has
probably magnified it. This is just not a time for making
During a conversation lasting almost 10 minutes ''Ruby''
quizzed Mr Shadbolt on the talkback show about the community
benefits of the planned Auckland to Bluff yacht race and who
would pay for the race expenses, including the infrastructure
needed to moor up to 30 super and maxi yachts at Bluff.
About eight minutes into the conversation, Mr Shadbolt
appeared to rumble her, calling her Ali, to which she
replied, ''Sorry, who? This is Ruby here.''
Mr Shadbolt said he was ''very suspicious'' from the start
that Ruby was Cr Timms but did not want to denounce her on
air in case he was wrong.
''I threw in Ali twice to give her an escape, but she was
quite adamant she was Ruby. If she had said `fair enough,
it's me', that would have been a joke, but she didn't.''
He said Cr Timms rang him and apologised but did not view it
as a prank.
In 2008, Cr Timms was one of three people whose yacht sank in
a storm off the coast of Fiji. They floated in shark-infested
waters for six hours before being rescued.
Mr Shadbolt said the Auckland to Bluff yacht race might have
brought back memories.
''I am only speculating, but I am wondering if she has linked
the Auckland to Bluff yacht race back to the rescue.''