The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

Speaking rights have been granted to ‘Public Watchdog’ Penny Bright at the CCO Strategy Review Committee Meeting to be held today, 21 April 2011 at 1.30pm at the Auckland Town Hall.

21 April 2011

Speaking rights have been granted to ‘Public Watchdog’ Penny Bright at the CCO Strategy Review Committee Meeting to be held today, 21 April 2011 at 1.30pm at the Auckland Town Hall.

My subject matter will (briefly) include:

1) Concerns about the lack of financial detail provided by CCOs.

2) A request for a ‘Register of Interests’ for all Board members of CCOs and staff employed by CCOs responsible for property and procurement.

3) A request for details of all consultants and private contractors employed by all CCOs and Watercare; including the names of the consultants/contractors; scope, value and terms(length) of contracts.

4) Whether there is a central ‘Register of Contracts’ held by each CCO, and Watercare; where is it held, and who at Auckland Council is responsible for double-checking that it is accurate and up to date.

5) How the Boards of all CCOs, and Watercare, become aware of their statutory duties arising from the Public Records Act 2005, s 17; the system(s) that are used to ensure that these statutory duties are implemented; and how the Auckland Council ensures that these statutory duties are enforced: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2005/0040/latest/DLM345729.html?search=ts_act_Public+Records+Act+2005_resel&p=1#DLM345729 17

Requirement to create and maintain records

(1) Every public office and local authority must create and maintain full and accurate records of its affairs, in accordance with normal, prudent business practice, including the records of any matter that is contracted out to an independent contractor.1

6) Watercare:

a) How much ‘council control’ exists over Watercare, regarding:

i) Auckland Council’s policy of opposition to ‘punitive action, for example water restriction’ being used regarding non-payment of accounts.

ii) Watercare Board meetings having a ‘public forum’ so that they can hear directly from the public.

b) The persecution and harassment of Water Pressure Group members to please cease forthwith; all outstanding disputed Metrowater bills to please be waived; all court action initiated by Metrowater to please cease forthwith; and all penalties such as credit restriction, charging orders and the like to be lifted forthwith.

(Had it not been for Water Pressure Group members, the practice of Metrowater being used as a ca$h cow, to subsidise rates thorough the rort of ‘charitable payments’, would not have been ruled ‘unacceptable’ by Parliament, and eventually phased out.

(Brave, internationally famous WPG members, have been at the forefront since 1998 of the fight against the commercialisation and privatisation of Auckland water services – and user-charges, particularly for wastewater services, which have proved financially crippling for larger, poorer families – have been through enough.)

More background information will be provided, on the previous ‘combative’ track record of Metrowater which included digging up the streets to permanently disconnect water supplies form the mains; attempts by Metrowater to bankrupt WPG members over disputed bills; abuse of the ‘legal system’ to intimidate, bully and harass WPG members; the singling out of a Samoan family and attempts to auction their family home over a disputed water account; the untimely deaths of two WPG members from what are believed to be Metrowater stress-related heart attacks.)

c) WPG members, of course, are still opposed to Watercare, becoming the ‘one big Auckland water company’ – which we have been warning the public about since 1998 – because that has been the corporate agenda since the mid-1990’s, and the public have neither voted for this, nor the $upercity full stop. The model was the one used in South Australia – first ‘vertically integrate’ into ‘one big water company’ – then contract out the operation and management to United Water (100% owned by Veolia – the world’s biggest water multinational). United Water now have seven NZ water services contracts. But were they based on misrepresented pricing? Did United Water put in cheaper tenders in order to get a foothold in NZ? (The NZ Office of the Auditor-General is currently assessing my complaint on this matter.)

The allegation was that United Water NZ corporate overhead costs had been loaded on to South Australian customers, and United Water did not get their South Australian contract renewed.

d) In my considered opinion, Watercare CEO Mark Ford, must be instructed to answer these following questions, requested under the OIA, which have still not been answered. Is this Auckland Council going to ‘open the books’ and ensure ‘open, transparent and democratically accountable’ local government? If ‘YES’ – then please ensure that some Council control is exercised over Watercare, and these questions are answered in a full and proper way. __________________________________________________________________________________________________ “25 June 2010 Executive Chair Auckland Transition Agency (ATA) Mark Ford

OPEN LETTER/OIA REQUEST TO MARK FORD, EXECUTIVE CHAIR OF THE AUCKLAND TRANSITION AUTHORITY (ATA)

Dear Mark,

Just in case you are unable for any reason to accept the invitation to attend the Public Meeting to be held on Monday 5 July 2010, from 7.30 – 9.30pm at the Freemans Bay Community Centre, calling for an investigation of the 7 United Water New Zealand contracts, can you please provide the following information by 5pm Friday 2 July 2010:

A) Information which explains why you, when CEO of Watercare Services Ltd, appointed known water privatiser, ex-Mayor of Papakura, David Hawkins, to the position of Corporate Liaison Manager for Watercare Services in 2000.

B) Information which confirms that you were aware of the Report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), in 1998, which was critical of a number of key aspects of the ‘Papakura franchise’, signed by David Hawkins as Mayor of Papakura in April 1997: (These shortcomings were referred to in this recent ‘Regulatory Impact Statement’ http://www.dia.govt.nz/Pubforms.nsf/URL/Water_RIS…/Water_RIS_2010.doc “REMOVING BARRIERS TO WATER INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 2002 – REGULATORY IMPACT STATEMENT: 34. A potential risk is that councils lack expertise in the area of PPPs and other concession arrangements, and that developing such arrangements requires specialist skills. This was suggested in reports by the Auditor-General on the Papakura franchise agreement and the Wellington DBMO arrangement.[1] 35. In Papakura, for example, the Auditor-General noted that: ·the Council relied on limited internal and local expertise when setting up the agreement and it was not reviewed by an external expert; ·the franchise agreement inadequately documents the franchisee’s obligations to release particular information to the Council; ·the franchise agreement focused on performance indicators relating to price and quality, but indicators for customer service and asset management and development were not well defined; and ·there was a lack of agreement between the parties about how the condition of the infrastructure would be measured over the duration of the franchise – no baseline was established and an asset management plan was not undertaken. [1] Controller and Auditor-General – 2006 report, as above; plus Report on Papakura District Council: Water and Wastewater franchise, April 1998. ” ______________________________

C) Information which explains why you, when CEO of Watercare Services Ltd, appointed Graham Wood, to the position of General Manager Operations of Watercare Services,(in or about 2007), and what steps you took to:

1) Inform all elected representatives that made up the Watercare Shareholders Representative Group (SRG), of Graham Wood’s former position as the former Managing Director of United Water South Australia,

2) Inform the public of Graham Wood’s former position as the former Managing Director of United Water South Australia.

D) Information which explains the role played by David Hawkins and/or Graham Wood (if any) whilst working for Watercare in the securing of any NZ United Water contracts. E) Information which explains why, on the Watercare Services Ltd website, when you were CEO, there was no section which covered the Watercare Shareholders Group, to make the following information publicly available: SRG meeting minutes; SRG reports ; information about which elected representatives were actually members of the SRG, and the like.

F) Disclosure of all / any interests (if any) you had or may have, either pecuniary or non-pecuniary with:

1) United Water;

2) Veolia Water,

3) Past or current members of the World Bank, including, but not limited to David Shand, the Head of the Rates Inquiry and one of the three Commissioners on the Royal commission of Inquiry into Auckland Regional Governance

G) Disclosure of all / any interests (if any) you had or may have, either pecuniary or non-pecuniary with Veolia Transport, who have the contract with ARTA (of which you were Chair since 2007) to operate train services on the Auckland Passenger Rail Network. http://www.nzcid.org.nz/veoliatransport.html VEOLIA TRANSPORT AUCKLAND http://www.veoliatransport.co.nz

In 2004 Veolia Transport Auckland Limited was contracted to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) to operate train services on the Auckland Passenger Rail Network. The contract has subsequently been extended through to 2014.

VEOLIA TRANSPORT (WORLDWIDE) http://www.veolia.com/en/group/activities/transport-management.aspx Veolia Transport, as a leading private operator of public transport, manage over 2.63 billion trips per year globally, thereby decreasing traffic congestion, combating climate change and avoiding over 4.1 million tons of Co2.

Veolia Transport is part of Veolia Environnement the world’s leading environmental services company. http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/mark+ford+lead+auckland+transition+agency

Mark Ford (Executive Chair) CEO of Watercare Services Ltd since 1994 and Chairman of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority since 2007. Previous roles have included CEO of Auckland Regional Services Trust and CEO of NZ Forestry Corporation. ) ______________________________

H) Information which confirms your position, as Executive Chair of the Auckland Transition Agency, on the request for a ‘full and thorough independent investigation of the pricing practices of private water company United Water’s seven contracts’ as requested in the following: Petition 2008/60, presented by Su’a William Sio, on 9 December 2009:

“Requesting that the House of Representatives do not implement any legislative changes to the Local Government Act 2002 which would make it easier to privatise water services via changes to ‘contracting out’, and ‘Public Private Partnership’ (PPP) provisions, until a full and thorough independent investigation of the pricing practices of private water company United Water’s seven contracts in New Zealand has been undertaken.” ……………………… ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Yours sincerely,

Penny Bright Media spokesperson Water Pressure Group

Judicially recognised ‘Public Watchdog’ on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.

“Anti-corruption campaigner”

PH (09) 846 9825 021 211 4 127

https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

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April 20, 2011 - Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Fighting water privatisation in NZ, Human rights, Transparency in Govt spending

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