Lyn Provost

Sloppy and secretive but not corrupt

The report in the dodgy sheep deal in Saudi Arabia has finally been delivered.

The government is using this paragraph to claim exoneration:

“I found no evidence that the arrangements entered into as part of the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership were corrupt. … The payments did not amount to bribery or facilitation payments. Instead, they were made as part of a legally valid contract for services. Public money was spent within the necessary financial approvals.”

So, Murray McCully isn’t corrupt but he is inept…and probably misled cabinet, and blew nearly $12million for nothing.

NBR Reports:

Sloppy and secretive but not corrupt.

That is the best way of summarising Auditor-General Lyn Provost’s report on Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s handling of the Saudi sheep deal.

“I found no evidence that the arrangements entered into as part of the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership were corrupt,” the report concludes.

But, she says, “I share many New Zealanders’ concerns about the arrangements.”

As for Mr McCully himself, he told an impromptu press conference he hopes to learn from the Auditor-General’s recommendations but suggested to news media they are more responsible for his reputation for cutting corners than he is.

The report is in fact highly critical of Mr McCully’s methods of operating: It just concludes those methods are not actually corrupt.

Read more »

Hagaman has a clear run to take Andrew Little for everything he’s got

Andrew Little’s stunt to smear the Hagamans and National with the Auditor-General has blown up in his face.

The Auditor General has found there was nothing unusual about the selection of Scenic Hotel Group as the operator of a Niue tourism resort at the centre of a political row over a six figure donation to National.

Auditor General Lyn Provost said from the available information her office had found there was a standard procurement process with reasoned and documented analysis for the selection of Scenic Hotel Group to operate the resort, and for the subsequent investment of New Zealand international development assistance funds in expanding the resort.

The contract was referred to Provost by Labour leader Andrew Little after he questioned the company’s links to National.

Scenic Hotel Group founder Earl Hagaman, and wife Lani, made a donation to the National Party during the 2014 election of $101,000. Scenic Hotel Group. A month later the company won a tender to manage the Matavai resort in Niue, which receives funding from the New Zealand Government.

Little is now being sued for defamation by the Hagaman’s after refusing to apologise and retract a statement that the deal “stunk to high heaven”.   Read more »

Council computer is a dud

Auckland Council’s new custom-made computer system is going to blow its head off and go over the already over budget-budget.

And the Auditor General is raising her concerns about it. She seems to do that an awful lot these days with Auckland Council.

A $157 million Super City computer system has a potentially “catastrophic” risk, says Auditor General Lyn Provost.

The NewCore system, the cost of which has blown out from $71 million to $157 million, also carries an “almost certain” risk with a “major impact”, she said.

Last night, the council’s chief information officer Dean Kimpton said Ms Provost was commenting on information supplied in May and the computer system had improved significantly since then.

In the past few days, Ms Provost told the council’s leadership and councillors the NewCore programme is an area of significant cost and risk to the council.

NewCore is considered key to delivering the promised savings of the Super City. It is designed to consolidate the outdated operating systems of the former eight councils, which merged in 2010 to become the Auckland Council.

[…]    Read more »

Auditor-General says Auckland Council budget is poo

Auditor-General Lyn Provost has pilloried Auckland Council for the state of its accounts and its budget. The Long Term Plan lacks integrity.

She has recommended – in Auckland Council’s annual report – that the Council include a sensitivity analysis in future long-term plans on how growth rates impact the budget. Sensitivity analysis is code for ‘forecast costings’.

There are a range of issues raised by the Auditor-General in her assessment.

For example she expressed concern that Council have excluded targeted rates from its calculations which meant staff were able to announce fictional levels of rate rise. Basically fudging numbers allowing for understating of rates rises. Hardly a surprise!

The Auditor-General was also unhappy with the manner in which Council calculated and recorded debt – deliberately leaving out Watercare related debts and costs which would have to be some of the biggest on the books. Council debt rose from a staggering $1.3 billion to an eye watering $7.3 billion. What was that spent on?   Read more »

Another dodgy deal under the spotlight at Auckland Council

It’s fantastic to see that the Auditor General has filed her teeth and is focussed on how bad local government is.

Of course Auckland Council has to be the worst of them with its continual excessive spending and mounting debt and some – quite frankly – pretty dodgy deals done by its City Transformation team.

Out West the team has been a focal point for a while.

Investigate magazine raised the issue of what deals the Council did with Westgate developer NZRPG, but that fell on deaf ears. Until now…

Auditor-General Lyn Provost has begun an inquiry into Auckland Council’s involvement in a new town centre at Westgate, which is costing ratepayers about $200 million.

The inquiry follows concerns raised with the Office of the Auditor-General about the way the project was established by the former Waitakere City Council and is being managed.

The Westgate town centre at Massey North is a $1 billion public-private partnership between New Zealand Retail Property Group (NZRPG) and council, first mooted in 2002.

It is said to be New Zealand’s biggest new town centre, equivalent to a new Manukau or Albany, set on a 56ha site at the end of the Northwestern Motorway.   Read more »

Fran O’Sullivan – Call in the Auditor-General

Fran O’Sullivan adds another of the cuts in Len Brown’s long and slow death by a 1000 cuts.

Auditor-General Lyn Provost is the right person to take inquiries into Len Brown’s relationship with the SkyCity hotels and casino operator to the obvious next stage.

The mayor of Auckland has attempted to brazen his way through the embarrassing detritus exposed by the EY (Ernst & Young) report into some of the implications of his two-year affair with Bevan Chuang.

But that report, emasculated as it was after legal negotiations between Brown’s lawyer and the Auckland Council’s QC, has put new material on the table which must now be investigated by the Auditor-General herself.

It was fundamentally inappropriate for Brown to take the three freebies and accept five upgrades from the SkyCity and SkyCity Grand hotels in Auckland.

Particularly, as the Auckland Council had to take a position on the Government’s controversial “pokies for convention centre swap” and the mayor – who had previously railed against problem gambling – let his principles melt away.   Read more »

Fran O’Sullivan on Len Brown being above the rules

Fran O’Sullivan from the NZ Herald doesn’t hold back as she discusses Len Brown’s propensity to fail to abide by the rules.

If he had any skerrick of honour left, Len Brown would by now have tendered his resignation as mayor to the people of Auckland.

It is absolutely clear that Brown has obtained multiple private benefits by virtue of his position as Mayor of Auckland.

It’s now time for Auditor-General Lyn Provost to open up a much wider inquiry to satisfy Aucklanders – and New Zealanders at large – just where Brown’s abuse of his position stopped.

Brown is hopelessly compromised by the Ernst & Young (EY) report, finally released after lengthy “negotiations” between the mayor’s office and Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay on just what would be made public from the review into the possible use of council resources during the mayor’s two-year affair with Bevan Chuang.  Read more »

McKay too smart for Brown

Word on the street around Auckland is that Len Brown is looking for a lawyer who will agree with him that Doug McKay improperly called for the investigation.

The report by all accounts is dreadful for Brown but his camp feel confident that they can try to marginalise the process by which McKay initiated then prosecuted the inquiry.

They may even try to injunct the report coming out which would be truly stupid, but then again he conducted a two year affair inside the mayoral office, so I guess stupid is as stupid does.

However Fran O’Sullivan explains carefully how Doug McKay has appeared to outsmart Len Brown by keeping the Auditor-General informed of every step.

Auditor-General Lyn Provost is keeping a watching brief on Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay’s review of Mayor Len Brown’s possible use of council resources during his two-year affair with Bevan Chuang.

Impeccable sources have confirmed to me that Provost has been in frequent close contact with McKay since he appointed top accounting firm Ernst & Young to undertake the review on his behalf.

It has clearly been a testing brief for McKay to effectively investigate his own boss. Insiders have correctly described the process as involving a good deal of “negotiation” between the mayor’s office and McKay’s executive suite to gain access to the information necessary for Ernst & Young to do a credible job.

McKay has been receiving advice from Crown Solicitor Simon Moore, whose warrant covers the greater Auckland area. Brown has his own legal adviser.   Read more »

He shoots, he scores…oh wait!

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson’s complaint to the Auditor-General has fallen on deaf ears. There is nothing untoward about the process by which Ian Fletcher was appointed.

The auditor-general will not investigate the appointment of spy boss Ian Fletcher, the watchdog has announced.

In a statement, the office of the auditor-general said the law does not prescribe any particular process that must be followed before appointing the director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).  Read more »

Trotter on the Shame Jones affair

Chris Trotter echoes my thoughts on the Shane Jones affair:

Here’s a question for Labour. When confronted with evidence raising serious questions about the judgment of a senior caucus member, what should the leader do?

Should he measure the member’s actions against his own beliefs about what constitutes right and proper conduct in someone holding a ministerial warrant? Examining the facts of the case, should he ask himself how he would have acted differently? Should he take moral stock of the environment in which the member’s actions occurred? Paying special attention to the actions of the member’s staff, should he ask himself whether he would have felt comfortable working alongside them? Would he have trusted their advice?

Or, should he simply outsource the whole job to the auditor-general?

As we know Shearer sent requested the A-G look at this issue. Perhaps because he lacked the courage to deal with it internally.  Read more »

×