Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Contempt for democracy

The annual financial review hearings are a vital part of our democratic process, allowing Parliament (through its select committees) to hold government agencies accountable for their use of public money. Solid Energy's financial review is scheduled for tomorrow, and given that they've just lost $389 million of public money, you'd expect to get some serious answers from them. But we won't. Why? Because they have refused permission for former CEO Don Elder - who is still on the payroll - to appear:

Solid Energy has refused Labour’s request for former chief executive Don Elder to appear before the Commerce Select Committee tomorrow, despite him still being on the payroll, Labour’s SOEs spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove says.

Last week Clayton Cosgrove wrote to Solid Energy’s new chairman Mark Ford and interim chief executive Garry Diack requesting that former CE Don Elder appear before the Commerce Select Committee as part of the 2011/12 Financial Review Hearing of Solid Energy on Thursday 7 March.

Today Solid Energy has responded simply by saying, ‘given that Dr Elder resigned from the role of CEO, it is no longer appropriate for him to represent the company, so he will not be appearing at Select Committee’.

As Cosgrove points out, this means that no-one appearing before the committee tomorrow was involved in the decisions which led to the collapse - meaning that we won't get answers, let alone accountability. Its a whitewash, pure and simple.

Don Elder blew $389 million of public money, while paying himself over a million dollars a year. We deserve some answers from him on how that happened. If Solid Energy won't provide him voluntarily, the Committee should use its powers under Standing Order 193 (or 194, depending) to summons him. Then we might finally get to the bottom of this financial disaster.