Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party
Tony Ryall was receiving month-to-month monitoring reports on Solid Energy when former chairman John Palmer on his last day renewed chief executive Don Elders contract, says Labours SOEs spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.Clayton
Spokesperson for SOEs
27 February 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT
Last day contract extension for Solid CE
Tony Ryall was receiving month-to-month monitoring reports on Solid Energy when former chairman John Palmer on his last day renewed chief executive Don Elder’s contract, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.
“Tony Ryall has been receiving information on Solid Energy ‘month-to-month’ since June last year. Since then the outgoing chair gifted a new contract to chief executive Don Elder on the chairman’s last day, August 31 last year. That presumably would have meant that the taxpayer would have paid out substantially more in severance pay a few months later when the chief executive resigned.
“Tony Ryall knew about this under the no-surprises policy. He would have known about it but he did nothing. Yet again he’s been asleep at the wheel.
“Tony Ryall has overseen a culture of excess. When a company is in dire financial difficulties they shouldn’t be paying out $23 million in bonuses.
“Yet today Tony Ryall ruled out an independent inquiry into the collapse of Solid Energy. New Zealanders need to know what happened to this company, what happened to taxpayers’ money and why the Government are trying to bury it.
“The collapse of Solid Energy wasn’t due to coal prices alone, it was due to serious mismanagement and lack of oversight by this Government. They knew about financial difficulties when they rejected a request for a $1 billion capital injection in 2009.
“They knew more in 2010 when there was a dispute over company valuations. By their own admission they knew even more in 2011 when their own scoping study to sell the company revealed even more financial difficulties.
“Despite all this and the minister receiving month-to-month monitoring reports in 2012 still the Government did nothing.
“National has run Solid Energy into the ground. John Key tried to lay the blame on the last Government but back then Solid Energy was an export award-winning company returning millions of dollars to the taxpayer, now it’s a train wreck.”