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Transcript: Clayton Cosgrove On John Tamihere

Clayton Cosgrove MP
Speech in Urgent Debate 19 October 2004

Scoop Transcript

Madam Speaker, there can be no more serious allegations than the ones raised in this House today. And that is why this government has moved swiftly to initiate a high level inquiry.

At the same time though, we have to acknowledge that Mr Tamihere's years at the Waipareira Trust were a great success story. Here are the facts. Mr Tamihere started with a 12 employee organisation with a half million dollar turnover Madam Speaker.

He finished with over 200 employees and a turnover of 8 million dollars.

That member over there; Mr Hide, has never run a business - he couldn't run bath water - in his life.

Building so quickly; Madam Speaker, and so strongly were all the 'i's dotted and the 't's crossed? The answer is no. But few organisations ma'am, with such a remarkable growth record would be able to withstand the scrutiny that Mr Tamihere has been exposed to.

What we have seen in this House today, and in the last week, is a hatchet job Madam Speaker, of awesome proportions. It has brought together three vengeful groups:

- The trustees and staff of the Waipareira trust
- Mäori party activists, maybe Mr Sharples has started his election campaign.
- And of course, the leader of the Act Party, Rodney Philip Hide. The only - by his own admission - honest man in the Parliament.

The reason John Tamihere, Madam Speaker, has been attacked from all sides is quite simple. Because it was he who called for greater accountability and transparency at the Waipareira Trust. Something I would have thought the self-confessed great scambuster Mr Hide would have supported.

For a number of years, trustees and beneficiaries, including Mr Tamihere, Madam Speaker, have voiced concerns. And those concerns have never been answered by a clique of managers and trustees in that trust.

The concerns included:

- The possibility of mortgagee sale proceedings
- Mezzanine financers being sought to prop up the Trust's trading.
- Losses at its call centre, in the order of $3 million dollars and over.
- and the sale of major assets ma'am.

These and other unanswered questions led to a special general meeting on 27th July of this year. The meeting appointed an Audit Committee, made up of John Tamihere, Irene Tukerangi, Ricky Houghton the Treasurer and Mr Joseph Waru. The Audit Committee was tasked with instructing Deloittes to conduct an audit and review ma'am.

The process adopted was for this was highly unusual. Despite being elected ma'am, to the Audit Committee Mr Tamihere was not allowed access to any of the work in progress. He was not questioned as part of the work. He was not given the opportunity to respond to any of the draft findings. In fact he still has not ma'am, received an official copy of the report.

The fact is, that member over there, he does not have the gift of the gab. He's got the gift of the Gibb's, I think it's called Alan Gibbs, and we'll get to that soon.

In fact, no audit and review ever took place. The media have called it an audit. Mr Hide has called it an audit. The Waipareira Trust Board ma'am, purported to release an audit and review statement. This is an absolute fabrication. Deloitte's themselves indicate in their opening comments that, and I quote:

"Because the procedures enumerated within the attached report do not constitute either an audit or review, we do not express any assurance on any financial information relating to the items in the Terms of Reference of this engagement." [page 1 Deloitte report]

And Mr Hide never referred to that.

It is also clear that no real examination took place ma'am. To quote from the report itself:

"This report was compiled on the basis of information gathered by Trust employees, and the contract accountant Mr B Bryant, along with enquiry and interviews with certain people involved in the Trust Board's governance and management and based on reports and documentation supplied and sighted by Deloitte's." [page 1 Deloitte report]

The guts of Mr Tamihere's problem ma'am, is this:

The people who were under investigation in the audit were the only people who were asked to supply information to it.

No-one else was questioned. No-one else who raised complaints or concerns had a chance to respond.

What kind of a dodgy report is that?

The reality is the process was hijacked to ensure that rather than focusing on problems facing the Trust, the focus was on Mr Tamihere.

The reality is, in simple terms, that is called payback!

And to further ensure that no-one took any notice of the real issues ma'am, of malfeasance in the Trust, just a few days before the report was released five trustees were sacked and three senior workers were removed, all in the same week ma'am.

There are some serious questions that need to be answered by Deloitte relating to their conduct in this matter. There is also a question of whether, as auditors for the last three years of the trust, Deloitte's was ever in a position to properly accept the job.

A gang of three was been formed at the Trust:
- the Treasurer, a triple-bankrupt Ricky Houghton
- the Chief Executive Officer Reg Ratahi
- and the Chief Financial Officer: Bruce Bryant.

The gang of three have collaborated and colluded to ensure they have covered their tracks and to make sure there is no accountability at the trust ma'am.

And this is the calibre of person that that member over there, the scambuster, Mr Hide relies on for his evidence, so called.

The documentation relied on by Mr Tamihere's accusers is wrong in a number of respects, and evidence to the inquiry will determine this. Time does not allow me to identify all of these aspects, other than to say the following:

- Fact - current CEO Mr Ratahi received a major bonus package of over $60,000 when he moved from being the Health Manager at the Trust. This was not disclosed. In fact Mr Ratahi's salary has never been disclosed at all. Not in the report nor even to the Trustees.

- Fact - former CEO for 9 months, Mr Mackintosh, was also paid a major package of at least $60,000 for leaving. This also Ma'am was not disclosed.

Only Mr Tamihere's details were disclosed. And the inquiry will show in my view, that those details were wrong.

There are more flaws and falsehoods but I'm going to stop there. There's enough evidence in this for even TV3 - and all the rest of the media to have a look at it. Except some of the media ma'am, do not want to focus on it.

We also know, that contrary to the constitution, the current CEO Mr Ratahi provided a letter to the Chair of the Audit Committee, Mr Joseph Waru, a trustee. Giving him employment through the back door and buying his support in what, the oversight of the dodgy so called audit and review report. Work that one out.

Again, certain media did not wish to focus on this element.

And that is because the report is fashioned in a remarkable 'Hideish' type of way. To provide the reader with quotable information about Mr Tamihere, who was never meant to be the focus of the review. While of course, at the same time, obscuring negative findings about the current management of the trust.

The smell I have to say, of the political sewer ma'am, reeks around this report.

We now know that Mr Hide has been working in collusion with the gang of three since August 2nd of this year.

So when the heat is put on the gang of three; through an audit commissioned on the 27th of July, less than a week goes by before the gang of three is negotiating with Mr Hide, and colluding with Mr Hide to become a gang of four. Why do they do this - well there can only be one explanation - to cover their own tracks.

What started as a search for accountability and integrity at the Trust has highlighted an absolute lack of it.

As a Chartered Account it should be unthinkable for instance, to allow an outside person, friend or enemy, to trawl through the accounts of the organisation they work for. Yet Mr Hide has for 2 solid months with the Trust, worked his fingers to the bone on this issue. He sat in the accounts office working his fingers to the bone to do over Mr Tamihere. And this is an unforgivable breach by that chartered accountant. The consequences of which yet to be visited I believe, on Mr Bryant.

Little do the gang of three realise what is happening when they get into bed with a creature like Rodney Philip Hide.

But it is important ma'am for the record to be put straight. And for the people of West Auckland and New Zealand to know, that Mr Tamihere has been the subject of a well-planned and well-orchestrated witch hunt and jack up.

And I wanted to say, I think it was to one of our members, people in glass houses should not throw stones. I note with interest that Michael Cullen asked Mr Hide of course, had he ever had money from the outside. I remember during the Pecuniary Interests Debate, I asked Mr Hide because it is not an offence or breach of standing orders if somebody says hey I want to go to parliament, but the salary of $120,000 or whatever it is just isn't enough for me, and somebody else says, well look I'll give you $50,000 a year. It would only be a breach of course, if somebody was then asked to be motivated to action, as a result of that payment.

Now we know, that Mr Hide of course, worked for Gilt Edge Securities for three years, which was a front to set up the act party. We know that Mr Alan Gibbs, he's sort of his surrogate father, how much did that man pay Mr Hide.

The question is of course.....

**** ENDS ****

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