Opinion: Conflicts, Manipulation and Smears – The WasteNet Saga

Jun 08, 2019
2406 Views

Opinion: I am staggered that while Mayors Tong and Hicks repeatedly say they are still restrained by a tender process that has yet to be finalised (and had the WasteNet lawyer reinforce that) yet when they don’t like the ICC vote they feel free (1) to discredit ICC (2) to discredit SdE and it’s offer (3) and suggest they will release information to inform the public of their position.

The media release today by SdE attempts to correct the smear / misinformation by these two Mayors’ in their media release. Who gives those Mayors the authority to speak on behalf of WasteNet ?

Why were these two Mayors allowed to be present at the ICC meeting and stay in the public exclusion section as they are not ICC elected officials or staff / advisers and then attempted to push Councillors into accepting the recommendation of WasteNet – surely that could (should) have done by one of our ICC representatives on WasteNet. I will leave it to you as Councillors to judge how Cr Thomas attempted to pursue the WasteNet recommendation.

I have some other issues which I would like you to consider:

  • In November 2018 WasteNet advised SdE that the contract would be tendered out (they did not agree to that action) – did WasteNet representatives including Cr Thomas seek to inform full council or /and seek their approval / support – given this is a complicated issue ? I understand there is not record of such an approach to full council – that reflects the approach taken by HoldCo directors (Councillors) when they set up of the HWCP Management Ltd company, some 6 months before full council were informed via a presentation.
  • If that November 2018 consultation had been done, the debates we are now having regarding the needs of SdE employees and a social impact factor influence for the tender could have been considered before any approval / support was given for a tender process – and the public could have been given some generic reasons on why the tender was needed.
  • The two Mayors refer to a 16 year contract – and that SdE is $11m above the preferred tenderer. The tender document was for 8 years, not 16 years – so this is purely a position to elevate the tender differences in dollar terms.
  • When one breaks down that alarmist data, it is $700,000 higher per year and that ICC’s cost would be close to $400,000.
  • Given the extra $300,000 agreed for the Stadium, the ongoing quarter a million dollar loss on your Awarua Industrial Park dream and the bailout of Rugby Park (which I understand could be millions), why is $400,000 a year so hard to fund ?
  • My City Chatter article this week suggested savings for Council that could well encompass enough savings for CBD investment, Stadium funding and now SdE.
  • That the WasteNet lawyer gave a good overview of bias – she said everyone has a bias or two on most issues – but it only creates a conflict of interest when that bias is spoken or promoted openly. So, given that those officials on Wastenet have stated their preferred tenderer openly, by advising SdE that they were not the preferred tenderer, how can they then be seen to consider the WasteNet recommendation as Councillors, especially as ICC was forced to consider the social impact too late in the process because of the lack of consultation by WasteNet back in Nov 2018 ?

And finally, I would like to reflect on the Mayors offer of a 12 month contract “so SdE and social agencies can find employment for those 82 workers with SdE”. That offer is nothing but a smokescreen to get ICC to agree to the preferred tenderer to take over the contract 12 months from now (end of June 2020).

As an ex Area Manager of Idea Services (IHC) I can advise that Idea Services has an employment / vocational team in Invercargill that specifically looks for employment for those with intellectual disAbilities.

I can also advise that most of those with SdE will get not meaningful work elsewhere – they will be left for family to care for 24/7.

If there were suitable placements available in the last 8 years, there would be no need for SdE to exist as an employer.

Most private sector places are difficult to manage as many of those placed in employment tend to be a business ‘ donation’ position and while the company may make the new employee feel welcome, those placed do not get that sense of belonging and family feeling that they get at SdE.

I feel that the way forward is for the other Mayors to refrain from further public comment and ICC should take the lead as the main contract funder, in undertaking some negotiations with SdE management. It seems to me as an observer, that the other two councils are reflecting finance and what they see as poor management by SdE while ICC has factored in their citizens at the recycling operation and the 22,000 who have voted support on line – many of those will be city and Southland residents.

The above was emailed to all Invercargill City Council councillors, Mayor, CEO.

Nobby Clark intend standing for ICC.

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