Major review addresses questions over QLDC's Lakeview role
The Queenstown Lakes District Council has started work on a full review of the decision-making process and financial authorities used to progress the controversial Lakeview development in Queenstown.
The review is being carried out by “super auditor” Bruce Robertson who has recently been linked by Crux to ZQN7 Ltd, the company at the centre of the QLDC “jobs for mates” procurement scandal.
Ruth Stokes, the main person behind ZQN7, is by coincidence fronting a large public relations event in Queenstown on Thursday evening (May 12) on behalf of the Australian developers of Lakeview, Ninety Four Feet. Crux had our ticket to the private event cancelled by a PR company acting for Ninety Four Feet saying the event was “not open to all media.”
Speaking to Crux today, one of the councillors behind the call for a review of Lakeview, Niki Gladding, said she hoped that Mr Robertson’s review would be thorough and offer new options for the future, as well as addressing possible issues with the Lakeview Developer Agreement signed by QLDC CEO Mike Theelen.
“QLDC went into the decision to accept a 20 year payment plan with Ninety Four Feet, rather than sell the council owned land outright for $42 million, on the basis that we would have more control over Lakeview. I do not believe we have that control especially as authority over the project has been delegated to the council CEO, Mike Theelen.”
Councillor Gladding also wanted to satisfy herself that the Terms of Reference for the Robertson Review were comprehensive and that all elected councillors are involved in the process.
She told Crux that a workshop session had already been scheduled as part of the Lakeview review process.
In another coincidence, Mr Robertson was the person hired by QLDC to carry out a Code of Conduct Investigation into Councillor Gladding in 2020.
QLDC confirmed the appointment of Mr Robertson in a short statement:
"Earlier this year Council requested that the decision making and delegation processes for the Lakeview project be reviewed. Mr Robertson has been commissioned to undertake this review which is currently underway.
"His experience as the former Assistant Auditor-General and as a well-respected advisor on local government governance and probity matters were key considerations in making these appointments." Source: QLDC May 12, 2022.
The Government is currently considering an application for Fast Track resource consent process for Lakeview. This process, if approved, would allow the Australian Lakeview developers to avoid public notification of the massive Queenstown project.
Crux has previously reported that the developers doubled the height of Lakeview buildings after agreement on a smaller concept had been settled with QLDC. We reported that QLDC would accept this height increase in return for guarantees of a publicly notified resource consent process.
Ninety Four Feet has not responded to requests for comment from Crux, made via their Auckland PR company Shanahan Ltd. The Shanahan website describes the company’s services:
“Shanahan offers a proven ability to work alongside teams looking to lead with authenticity and build trusted relationships with those that matter during periods of growth, innovation, disruption and risk.”
“Shanahan has supported a range of public and private sector organisations and individuals, through some of the most challenging of circumstances.”
Source: Shanahan Ltd.