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Auditor General’s Mudtopia Report Imminent

Auditor General’s Mudtopia Report Imminent
Press Release: Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers, 30 November 2018
RDRR is expecting the Auditor General’s evaluation of Rotorua Lakes Council’s management of the Mudtopia mud festival any day soon. It will be in response to complaints RDRR submitted on 2 August 2018. While concerned about some aspects of the process, RDRR says that the OAG’s investigation appears to have been rigorous. It expects that the OAG’s findings could be as controversial as Mayor Steve Chadwick’s bizarre attempt to buy mud from South Korea.

“Our submission is openly available at our website” said Glenys Searancke, RDRR Chair. “It became necessary when four attempts by elected councillors and the RDRR to have the Council refer Mudtopia to independent and forensic audit were rejected.”

Our complaints, she said, were about the propriety of delegations, the hidden business case, planning and management, due diligence, potential conflicts of interest, the integrity of officials’ advice, underwriting authorities, ignoring growing concerns and playing political ‘blame games’, slippage in objectives, abrogation of responsibility, reconciling decisions with transactions, the return on investment and falling confidence in accounts.

“There were also eight unanswered questions about payments,” said RDRR’s Secretary Reynold Macpherson, “refusing to conduct proper audit and offer public accountability, doubts about the Council’s Audit and Risk Committee and indications of nepotism. Exchanges with the OAG indicate that a great deal of information had been sought from Council and subjected to intense legal review.”

As complainant, he said, we have expressed concern about asymmetric aspects of the process. Council was given access to the substance of the complaints and yet RDRR was not given equivalent access to responses, and there were no public truth tests. Unlike Council, RDRR can’t purchase expert legal advice using public money. Neither the RDRR nor the Council will get to correct matters of facts or to advise the OAG on its interpretation of facts before release.

The OAG will set out its understanding of the facts based on the information provided by RDRR and the Council and provide conclusions and decisions on that basis. The report is expected in coming days.

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