Nothing to see here, move along

21:55, Apr 01 2014

Editorial: There's a phrase of heartland reproach. A comment that would rumble from gravely displeased Southlanders, typically bookended by a pair of rolling Rs.

"Dark deeds, done in the dark."

It was issued, at times of sore provocation, to remind those who exclude the public from clear, timely and legitimate scrutiny of their actions they were inviting suspicion about their motives and their methods.

Which is a richly deserved reaction to the unseemly secrecy that followed Monday's meeting to arrange yet another Rugby Park bailout courtesy, one way or the other, of a whole heap of community funds.

The participants emerged having agreed that Ian Tulloch would be their spokesman.

You might think that the minimum requirement for a spokesman, in these circumstances, might be that he had something to say.


Tulloch did announce that they had reached a "positive solution" and . . . well that was about it.

It was all very interim. When it had been reviewed - not by any of you people, obviously - more would be revealed. Meantime please hold your applause until the end.

Tulloch rebutted any reproach that given the depth of public interest, this was something short of accountable behaviour.

He added, not without reproach, that he did not want a repeat of the "massive leak" that had followed their previous meeting.

So no leakage this time, folks. Instead the almost comic spectacle of many of Southland's movers and shakers waddling around yesterday with the discomforted air of people wearing rapidly-filling incontinence knickers.

And there was a particularly strong whiff of ammonia behind Tulloch's suggestion that we should draw comfort and contentment from the fact that the public had been "well represented" at the meeting.

Nonsense. If there was a representative of public interest behind those closed doors, they were either weak or soundly mugged. Possibly both.

Tulloch's haughty approach was all the more inappropriate given that the whole exercise is a thoroughly shaming cap-in-hand acknowledgement of Rugby Park mismanagement.

The stadium trust and Rugby Southland have come to the ratepayer-funded Invercargill City Council, the Community Trust of Southland and the Invercargill Licensing Trust for yet another massive bailout following the previous one.

Remember that? The one that came with all that this-the-last-one rhetoric?

In hindsight it was curiously inapt that Invercargill City Council manager Richard King had called Monday's meeting "D-Day" for Rugby Park.

After the actual D-Day the Allies promptly went public.

And not just in significant speeches from the nations' leaders. For the benefit of those directly affected in France they even dropped proclamation/warning leaflets from the skies.

The Rugby Park bailout must be a matter of greater complexity.


The Southland Times