Electricity Invercargill constitution breach revealed at council meeting

Cr Ian Pottinger says he was alerted to the breach by a member of the public.
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Cr Ian Pottinger says he was alerted to the breach by a member of the public.

A constitution breach made by a council-owned company has been revealed at a council committee meeting. 

A city councillor is questioning why council's investment company Invercargill City Holdings Ltd didn't notice the oversight before a member of the public. 

Invercargill City Holdings (Holdco) is an investment company that is 100 per cent owned by the council on behalf of ratepayers. Holdco owns Electricity Invercargill Ltd. 

Electricity Invercargill's constitution says its annual report must be publicly available within three months of balance date. 

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At the council's finance and policy committee meeting on Tuesday, Cr Ian Pottinger requested that the report be brought into the public forum from the public excluded part of the meeting.

A letter from Holdco chief executive and council's director of finance and corporate services Dean Johnston says EIL breached its constitution by not having the financial reports publicly available within three months. 

The report to the committee includes a letter from EIL chairman Neil Boniface explaining action to ensure timeframes were met in future, along with an apology to the city council. 

Hereafter, a statement would be on the EIL website explaining how the public could obtain the information, the letter says. 

However, EIL had complied with all legal requirements. 

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Holdco do not intend to take any action against EIL for the breach. 

At the meeting, Pottinger said he wanted the item removed from the public excluded part of the meeting because it was a matter raised by a member of the public. 

Council chief executive Richard King said EIL breached the requirement of the constitution and had taken conviction to make sure it wouldn't happen again. 

Pottinger questioned why Holdco had not noticed the mistake. 

"We entrust ICHL [Invercargill City Holdings] to monitor subsidiaries," Pottinger said. 

"There was no sort of reasoning from ICHL as to why they did not pick this up, rather than a member of the public picking it up."

Johnston said from Holdco's point of view, all financials were supplied in the correct timeframe. 

"The thing Holdco didn't do was it didn't actually get onto the EIL website to make sure it was publicly available there too. 

"That's where Holdco trusted its EIL directors, that they would comply with that as well." 

Johnston said the only breach was the constitution of EIL. The company had not breached the Local Government Act or the Energy Act. 

The report would have been available if a member of the public had called EIL.

However, the reports needed to be more available than that, Johnston said. 

"It was an oversight, but once again it's been corrected." 

In future the information would be available to the public from June 30, he said. 

 

 - Stuff

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