Consents 'Mr Fixit' to be paid $2000 a day

05:57, Jul 09 2013
Douglas Martin
DOUGLAS MARTIN: Government-appointed manager of the Christchurch City Council consents department.

The top consultant head-hunted to sort out the Christchurch City Council consenting debacle will be paid $2000 a day.

Doug Martin, appointed Crown Manager yesterday by the Government, will be paid $2000-a-day by the Christchurch City Council while he works on a plan to restore the council's accreditation as an issuer of building consents.

His travel and accommodation expenses are on top of that.

He has been contracted till the end of the year.

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said Martin was a highly experienced consultant and had a reputation as a 'Mr Fixit'.

But he questioned Martin's appointment to a job that required an understanding of the technical aspects of consenting.


"He understands management, that's a given. But these are not just efficiency issues, these are technical breaches.

''I'd be interested to ascertain what advice they took and who they took the advice from in terms of making the appointment.''


Structural engineer John Scarry told Radio New Zealand this morning that Martin's appointment was unacceptable as he lacked technical knowledge.

"It is an absolute disgrace that a bureaucrat has been appointed to sort out a serious technical problem," Scarry said.

"If you don't put in someone who is a structural engineer, an architect, a fire engineer or a building services or sanitary sewerage engineer to sort out the problem, how can they do the job?"

In a later interview with Radio New Zealand, Martin said he had enough knowledge of local government and the construction sector to do the job.

"It [the job] requires both knowledge of local government, which I have, and also knowledge of the building construction sector, and I have that as well - rather more than people probably appreciate," he said.

Martin has had a leading role in several public sector reviews, including reviews of Environment Canterbury and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. He worked with the Auckland City Council on regulatory fees and governance issues and other councils on governance and amalgamation.

He acknowledged that he would bring in someone to help with system improvement around the building consenting system, rather than performance improvement - his "particular specialty".

"There are a lot of people within the council that could add a lot of value to this process and that would be my first point of call," he said.

He also said council staff should not be immediately worried about their jobs, as he intended to add staff.

"We'll have a good look at both the head count, [and] the capacity of Christchurch city and also its skill sets. My sense is that they will need augmenting somewhat."

Martin said his "immediate priority" was to contact Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and the council's acting chief executive this morning.

He said yesterday he didn't see his role as anything special.

"This is what I do for a living and a lot of organisations in the public sector undergo this sort of procedure but they do it out of the media spotlight."

While some might see the job as daunting he saw it as an opportunity.

His job was to build capability and rather than helping the organisation gain a pass mark, he was looking to make it a centre of excellence.

Martin said he was approached by Government last week when he was running his 40-staff consultancy business and had no reluctance accepting the job.

He expected to work fairly intensely with the department at the start and would then step back. He needed to produce an action plan in four weeks.

He had last worked in the building consenting sphere when he was engaged by Building Industry New Zealand to help transfer the consenting functions from private providers to councils.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee described Martin as one of New Zealand's most experienced and respected advisers on improving the performance of public sector agencies.

Martin has a track record advising New Zealand and overseas governments on organisational restructuring and change management.


The Press