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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Solid Energy
Extraordinary how people latch on to the wrong idea. Since the announcement that Solid Energy is in financial trouble it has been a consistent message repeated by many, is that part of their problem is that they made bad investments in green energy. In the next breadth Southland lignite is mentioned. Nothing to do with Southland lignite is green. The very best green news that there could be about Southland lignite is that it is going to be left in the ground. Sadly the near demise of the firm and the consequent loss of jobs may be what it has taken to get there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013



Eden Park

The change of control at Eden Park is a welcome move, but it is not enough. The pre-World Cup arrangements where the site was supposedly run independently were always a farce. Three times to my memory the Trust had to be bailed out by Auckland City. Strangely the City seemed to tolerate this and never forced a change of control.  The Government in funding some of the stadium upgrade for the World Cup insisted on appointing a majority of the board. Now it has handed that right back to the Auckland Council.

The decision to use Eden Park for the World Cup was a controversial one but it was the best option. The many temporary seats installed for the event lessened the risk of over-investment but still the stadium is overly large for almost any purpose – the chairman of the time spoke of wanting to leave a legacy – well that is it.

Auckland has a somewhat ill-matched collection of stadia but the Council is showing willing to prioritise what is spent where and what is played where. The Council is the guarantor of a substantial loan taken out by the Eden Park Board. The stadium barely breaks even and does not cover its depreciation. Is there another bale out on the way ? – well probably.  Was the control transfer to avoid the Government being called on for more funds?  It is hard to imagine the Government would have been sympathetic in its present circumstances. It could have easily said no with little embarrassment or consequence, so it was probably more to get the responsibility where it should be.

How that responsibility should be exercised is the question – the transfer is unfinished business. Auckland Council should have the Trust wound up and assume direct responsibility itself – through its regional Facilities CCO would be best. That ways we can see the stadium is put to its best use, stem any more legacy projects and reduce the moral hazard of the Trust operating off an implied guarantee from the Government or the Council. 

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