Delta-Aurora CEO Cameron will not seek new role

Grady Cameron.
Grady Cameron.
Beleaguered Delta and Aurora chief executive Grady Cameron has confirmed he is standing down.

Mr Cameron will not be seeking either of two new roles, as the closely linked Dunedin City Council-owned companies follow a recommendation to split in two, with separate boards and chief executives.

The announcement comes after Mr Cameron, who will continue in an interim capacity until the end of the year, has been under immense pressure over claims he failed to ensure Aurora's network was properly maintained.

His critics say this lack of maintenance left thousands of power poles in Dunedin, Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes area in danger of falling over and put workers and the public at risk.

Former Delta worker Richard Healey, who quit to blow the whistle on the state of the network, welcomed the announcement, but added that Mr Cameron was only one of many individuals responsible for the neglected state of the network.

Delta and Aurora chairman Steve Thompson said it had begun implementing changes recommended in a review by Deloitte, which included making the closely-linked companies stand-alone entities.

''We are about to begin the process of recruiting a new chief executive for Delta and aim to have that person in place by the middle of the year.

''We expect to appoint a permanent Aurora Energy chief executive in the latter part of the year.

''The current chief executive, [Mr] Cameron, has advised me that he will not take up either of the new roles,'' Mr Thompson said.

Mr Cameron would remain in his role until the end of June and would be interim Aurora Energy chief executive until the end of the year.

The board was ''particularly grateful'' Mr Cameron had agreed to oversee the transition process, along with the accelerated pole programme now under way.

Mr Cameron said in a statement the new structure would significantly change the leadership of the two businesses.

''My focus now is on assisting the board and the two organisations with the transition and delivering the pole programme before taking on another role.''

Mr Cameron declined to be interviewed, but responded to questions by email.

Asked if he had been unfairly maligned by his critics, he said the ''reality is that we're dealing with a big, complex asset built over many decades''.

''As chief executive, you accept that the processes and systems to fix any problems are your responsibility, while understanding that they can't be fixed overnight.''

''I am incredibly proud to lead the dedicated, skilled team at Delta who work tirelessly on essential infrastructure for the benefit of the community,'' he said.

Asked if he should have done more to maintain the network, he said Aurora performed well by industry standards.

He was proud of his role in ''ramping up the network renewal process, which includes the accelerated pole programme''.

''Many of the structural changes now being implemented for the two companies were initiated during my term as chief executive.''

Mr Healey said the announcement was a positive one for the two companies.

However, he did feel a little sorry for Mr Cameron, saying he had borne the brunt of anger over the state of Aurora's network, when many other individuals were just as much to blame.

Aurora's board was complicit in the decisions not to invest in the network and when Mr Cameron took over in 2009 he inherited a network which had been neglected for decades.

However, after he took over he should have done much more to fix the issues, which were clearly outlined in a 2010 report he commissioned which called for a massive increase in the number of poles replaced.

''He's not a bad guy, but he made some really bad decisions.''

His failure to do enough to fix the problem essentially involved ''rolling the dice'' with other people's safety.

Mayor David Cull said he was reassured Aurora and Delta were implementing the structural changes recommended by Deloitte so quickly.

He did not want to comment on the merits of Mr Cameron standing down.

''It's not about personalities, it's about addressing the issues, some of which were safety issues.''

Mr Thompson also yesterday announced the appointment of the following roles: general manager network performance, Warren Batchelor; chief technology officer, Mark Corbitt; general manager operations and risk, John Campbell; general manager network commercial, Alec Findlater.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

Comments

Two CEO's and two boards is not acceptable it will be more money that is bled out of the ratepayer pocket, who are the people behind this blatant money grab,these two "companies" should be back under the control of the council,the people we pay to run our city and use our money wisely.

 

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