ACIL confused about their role in Port of Auckland dispute

The release of an internal email today shows that ACIL is confused about their role in the Port of Auckland dispute, says the Maritime Union.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National President Garry Parsloe says despite lecturing Auckland Councillors on the difference between management and governance, ACIL CEO Gary Swift, the head of a supposedly Council Controlled Organisation was shown to be completely involved in managing the Port Company’s political and communication strategy.

Mr Swift’s protestations of what was appropriate and not appropriate for ACIL seemed to be undermined by the clear involvement he personally had in the dispute.

In an email to a POAL communications staff member, which was read to the Council, Mr Swift clearly directed her work.

In the email he wrote “It is critical that we keep all the key players well informed and that the politicians are confident that the dispute is being overseen not only by the POAL board but also by ACIL. The last thing we need is political interference. If they sense that ACIL is not on top of what’s happening they may interfere and it may not go the way we want (the vote 12 to 9 was not a strong endorsement of our position).”

In response to questions at today’s Auckland Council Accountability and Performance Committee meeting, Mr Swift was unable to provide Councillors with information on the costs of the longstanding Ports of Auckland dispute.

Councillors raised concerns about the costs of the dispute including the widespread use of PR and industrial relations consultants and extensive legal costs.

Mr Swift said that knowing such costs was inappropriate at a governance level, but that ACIL had not seen anything in the quarterly reports of POAL to warrant their concern.

Mr Parsloe says it is astounding that POAL, wholly owned by ACIL on behalf of the people of Auckland, has not been subject to a thorough analysis of the costs of the long standing dispute.

The ACIL Statement of Intent specifically makes them “accountable for the prudent governance and management” of the investments they hold on behalf of the Auckland Council.

Mr Parsloe says if ACIL are not willing to ask the questions, who is holding the Port Company accountable to the people of Auckland?

As Councillor Mike Lee said, If you don’t know the cost – you can’t count it, you can’t measure it, you can’t manage or govern it.

Mr Parsloe says the facts of the matter are the contents of Mr Swift’s email shows that ACIL does not have the “hands off” role in this dispute they claim to have.

He says the email also shows Mr Swift’s complete contempt for the elected representatives of the people of Auckland, who should be requiring accountability in what is a matter of significant public interest.

 

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