Ruth Stokes standoff with Crux: Chamber will hold secret meeting

by Peter Newport - Dec 10, 2021

A request from Crux to meet the Board of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce has been declined by Chair Angela Spackman.

 Our request was an attempt to understand why our membership is being blocked after Chamber CEO Ruth Stokes (main image (right) above with Dame Therese Walsh (left)) refused to talk to Crux journalists. Crux has paid the annual membership fee to the Chamber.

Instead, Mrs Spackman wants a submission in writing saying, “the board will not require your attendance at our meeting.”

Mayor Jim Boult at the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards - no invite for Crux.

She quotes the following section of the Chamber’s Constitution:

Section 7 of the Chamber's constitution gives full discretion to the Board to accept or decline any application.

7)    a)  Applications for ordinary membership must be submitted on a Form of Application for Membership authorised by the Board, and any such Form of Application shall contain an undertaking by the applicant to abide by the Constitution and Rules of The Chamber.

b) The Board shall be entitled to decline any application.

Key guests at the Chamber of Commerce recent Queenstown Airport event: National MP Joseph Mooney, Airport Chair Adrienne Young-Cooper and airport CEO Glen Sowry

The Mountain Scene's Philip "Scoop" Chandler at the Chamber's December drinks at the airport. So what's the media criteria for belonging to the Chamber?

Crux publishes our self-evident Chamber submission below – for everyone to read.

“Dear Mrs Spackman, Mrs Stokes and members of the Board of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.

We do not have to justify or explain our application to re-join the Chamber of Commerce.

We resigned in protest at Mrs Stokes refusal to talk to us, accepting a promise from Chair Angela Spackman to supply us with all media information and contact Mrs Stokes on our behalf. That did not happen.

Therefore, we applied to re-join on the basis that as a Member of the Chamber we could at least get access to some of the answers we seek as journalists.

The idea that the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce would wish to censor local journalism, and “stage manage” news to your own advantage, indicates a politicisation of the Chamber that needs to be fully and openly declared.

We look forward to your early acceptance of our application. Should the Board decline our application we look forwards to a full and detailed explanation, including the criteria for news and media outlets being members. Can you confirm which other local or national media organisations are already members? We’d also like to know how many other applications in the history of the Chamber have ever been declined – and for what reason.

Peter Newport, Managing Editor, Crux."

Ruth Stokes was at the centre of the QLDC ZQN7 controversy that followed her company being paid over $600,000 to review council bylaws in contravention of the council's own financial rules. Mrs Stokes is a former QLDC manager.


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