Marryatt insists weekend work up to par

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2012

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Embattled Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt says he is the subject of a smear campaign.

He made his claim yesterday after The Press received a phone tip that Marryatt played golf on two of the weekends he said he worked after the February earthquake.

He said people were looking for any excuse to undermine him, linking this to a campaign to have the council sacked and replaced with commissioners.

On Monday, Marryatt defended his $68,000 pay rise, saying he had never worked harder and calling criticism "unfair".

"Where were those people when after February I didn't take a weekend off for nine weeks. I have worked exceedingly hard this year. I have never worked as hard in my life," he said.

The phone call directed The Press to Marryatt's golfing records on golf.co.nz, which show he played two rounds of weekend golf at Clearwater in the nine weeks after the February 2011 quake – on April 2 and in a stableford competition on April 9.

His round on April 2 was played on the same day it was reported that council staff were fighting to prevent the city's sewerage system collapsing, blanketing the city in an "almighty stink".

Marryatt said yesterday that he had worked nine weekends straight, attending community meetings and Civil Defence briefings, but this did not mean he had worked full days.

"I didn't take a weekend off, which doesn't mean I was working 10 hours for each day," he said.

"I did go play some golf. I just needed to clear my head."

He believed the negative publicity over his pay rise and reappointment last year was part of a smear campaign, and some people were "looking for any excuse" to undermine him and the city council.

Attacks on him appeared to be closely linked to the campaign to replace councillors with commissioners, he said.

"I think this is very personally against me and it goes very quickly from me to sacking the council."

The Government was keeping a close eye on the council and would step in if it "stuffed up", he said.

"But I think the council has done a marvellous job."

Marryatt's 14.4 per cent pay rise was announced on December 18, taking his pay from $470,400 to $538,529, effective from July 1, 2011.

Marryatt has also been criticised for not returning from his Gold Coast holiday after the December 23 quakes.

After his holiday, Marryatt defended the pay rise as fair market remuneration for a strong performance in a difficult job.

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Records show Marryatt played 25 rounds of golf last year, mostly at Clearwater and in Hamilton, seven more than in the previous year.

- Canterbury

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