Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Southern Response boss silent as calls for inquiry grow

From Checkpoint, 5:09 pm on 19 August 2019
Logan Church , Checkpoint video journalist

The Southern Response boss was nowhere to be found today as calls for a public inquiry into the state insurer's conduct reignited today.

It comes hot on the heels of a precedent-setting High Court ruling that found the organisation had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct when it deliberately withheld information from a customer that left them thousands of dollars out of pocket.

The ruling has also left experts wondering whether Southern Response could close up shop by the end of the year as planned, as thousands of settled cases could now be reopened.

In the case of Karl and Alison Dodds, the High Court heard Southern Response gave them an edited version of a detailed repair analysis (DRA) for the rebuild of their home.

That abridged assessment was tens of thousands of dollars less than the full estimate that the insurer kept secret from them.

Listen duration 6:56

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format or in OGG format.

The couple unwittingly settled on the lesser figure in 2013 - meaning they were shortchanged almost $200,000.

For insurance advocate Dean Lester, this court ruling is about time.

"What a stunning judgement from the court to have deceit, bad faith and such awful behaviour that affects families, whānau is quite disturbing."

Many families have been battling the state insurer for years in the hopes that Southern Response would honour their policy.

Insurance advocate Ali Jones was glad the Dodds' case has been brought to light.

"I think it's really important that we get to find out what else has been going on inside Southern Response over the last seven or eight years before it winds up. People will disappear, they will go away, the offices will close ... we need to get in there are shine some light into all of the cracks are crevices within Southern Response before it's no longer a company."

The organisation has previously been criticised for allegedly spying on claimants through controversial security firm Thompson and Clark.

Southern Response's chairperson Ross Butler resigned over the fiasco.

The issue of the two different repair assessments is the subject of a class action led by Grant Cameron of GCA lawyers.

He wasn't surprised at the High Court judgement on Friday and said more than 3000 customers could be affected potentially costing taxpayers at least another $300 million dollars to rectify.

"On the pattern, we've seen with people on the class action so far, most have lost about $100,000 on average, some are high as $200,000 ... there's a lot of money at stake."

But Mr Cameron said, in the end, this is a government organisation and a solution should come from the government.

"It's going to be hard going into election year to sway Cantabrians that they're being dealt with fairly if this hasn't been resolved."

Meanwhile, the lawyer for the Dodds, Peter Woods of Anthony Harper Lawyers, said one of the big questions now was over how Southern Response could still plan to shut when a tsunami of angry homeowners - with now a legal leg to stand on - could be on its way.

"There's no way Southern Response can just close up shop and walk away. Those claims have to be resolved."

Sources have told Checkpoint that EQC is being explored as a possible destination for those claims.

Former EQC Minister Gerry Brownlee said he was unaware of any deceptive behaviour by Southern Response.

Mr Brownlee would not comment on the case, but said he didn't think there was any deception from Southern Response's senior management.

"I don't believe either the board or the senior managers who were part of the board reporting to the government were being deliberately dishonest."

In discussing the problems around onsold Canterbury homes with improper quake repairs, Mr Brownlee said the term "botch-up" annoyed him.

Anthony Honeybone, Southern Response chief executive since September 2017 and prior to that its general manager for claims settlement since 2015, declined interview requests.

The minister responsible for Southern Response, Grant Robertson was not available for an interview.

Southern Response has 20 days to appeal the High Court decision.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Binoy Kampmark: Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme

Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like their spreadsheets. The seating, already peopled by those from human resources, white collar criminals and accountants, becomes toastier for those who make errors with those spreadsheets. ... More>>

The Dig - COVID-19: Just Recovery

The COVID-19 crisis is compelling us to kick-start investment in a regenerative and zero-carbon future. We were bold enough to act quickly to stop the virus - can we now chart a course for a just recovery? More>>

The Conversation: Are New Zealand's New COVID-19 Laws And Powers Really A Step Towards A Police State?

Reaction to the New Zealand government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown has ranged from high praise to criticism that its actions were illegal and its management chaotic. More>>

Keith Rankin: Universal Versus Targeted Assistance, A Muddled Dichotomy

The Commentariat There is a regular commentariat who appear on places such as 'The Panel' on Radio New Zealand (4pm on weekdays), and on panels on television shows such as Newshub Nation (TV3, weekends) and Q+A (TV1, Mondays). Generally, these panellists ... More>>

Jelena Gligorijevic: (Un)lawful Lockdown And Government Accountability

As the Government begins to ease the lockdown, serious questions remain about the lawfulness of these extraordinary measures. Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee has indicated it will issue summonses for the production of legal advice about the ... More>>

Caitlin Johnstone: Do You Consent To The New Cold War?

The world's worst Putin puppet is escalating tensions with Russia even further, with the Trump administration looking at withdrawal from more nuclear treaties in the near future. In addition to planning on withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Ethics (and Some Of The Economics) Of Lifting The Lockdown

As New Zealand passes the half-way mark towards moving out of Level Four lockdown, the trade-offs involved in life-after-lockdown are starting to come into view. All very well for National’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith to claim that “The number one priority we have is to get out of the lockdown as soon as we can”…Yet as PM Jacinda Ardern pointed out a few days ago, any crude trade-off between public health and economic well-being would be a false choice... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell. He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Trans-Tasman Bubble, And The Future Of Airlines

As the epidemiologists keep on saying, a trans-Tasman bubble will require having in place beforehand a robust form of contact tracing, of tourists and locals alike - aided by some kind of phone app along the lines of Singapore’s TraceTogether ... More>>


  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog