Rotten process needs fixing, too

Due process and natural justice demand a different outcome in the Delta/Aurora case, writes Robert Hamlin.

Grady Cameron.
Grady Cameron.
Employment law is a minefield, which only those who assiduously apply due process can navigate. After the publication of the damning report by Deloitte, there have been calls in this community and this newspaper for Grady Cameron, the CEO of Delta, to be removed.

Any lawyer will tell you that even with this report in hand, there will be a procedure to be followed before any such removal can occur. Short-cuts can either invalidate the procedure or make it far more expensive.

Richard Healey, the individual who first went public with allegations about the unsafe state of the network, has been described as an ''ex-employee'' (of Delta/Aurora).

Richard Healey.
Richard Healey.
Reports suggest that Mr Healey acquired this ''ex'' status pretty much on the instant that the management became aware of his public allegations - which are now officially established fact.

There is no evidence of due process, or of any employment process at all being applied by management, beyond Mr Healey's immediate removal from the premises.

Enough time has now elapsed since the Deloitte report was published for the boards of Delta and DCHL along with the DCC to make their intentions clear to the community.

There is no sign of either the resignation/dismissal of Mr Cameron, or the reinstatement of Mr Healey. The former may require secrecy as part of the ''due process'' mentioned above. The latter needs no such cloak.

Mr Healey was proven correct in a matter that was directly relevant to both public safety and the correct discharge of the duties of both Delta/Aurora's board and management. As a result, if he was an employee, he deserves reinstatement at least.

If he was a contractor, then there is no good reason why he cannot now be re-contracted. After all, Mr Healey has shown himself to be a competent and conscientious electrical infrastructure engineer.

It can no longer be denied that there is plenty of work for such individuals to do within the Aurora network area, and not nearly enough Mr Healeys to do it all as fast as it all needs to be done.

There are also current vacancies on the Delta/Aurora boards that would be admirably suited to an individual with Mr Healey's demonstrated skill and motivations.

If Mr Healey is to be granted justice, or at least due process at least to the same degree as Mr Cameron appears to be enjoying it, then the wider community who have directly benefited from Mr Healey's actions and sacrifice should demand no less from those elected representatives who can deliver it.

This means our elected councillors to whom the board of DCHL and thus Delta/Aurora report. Some of these councillors have already seen fit to publicly express their confidence in Mr Cameron. They now need to do the same (and more) for Mr Healey - they can insist - they do have that power.

In our own best interests in addition to natural justice, we should make sure that they do. Remember, if Mr Healey had not willingly and resolutely gone to the sacrifice, Aurora's poles and wires would still be quietly rotting in situ above our own heads and those of our children.

-Dr Robert Hamlin is a senior lecturer in the department of marketing at the University of Otago, commenting in a personal capacity.

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