Home' Greymouth Star : August 13th 2015 Contents www.greystar.co.nz
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THURSDAY, AUGUST 13, 2015
Est. 1866 Phone 769 7900
Cricket memorabilia auction
to boost Coast awards
Power price rise
West Coasters are potentially
facing a large power increase even
though State-owned Transpower
earned $73.8 million in the
six months to December, New
Zealand First says. The Electricity
Authority is looking at moving to
a more user-pays system, which
would increase power bills on the
Coast by up to $500 a year. “The
authority’s ‘user pays’ philosophy is
absurd when it penalises people for
living in Northland, Auckland or
the West Coast. Many provincial
regions will get walloped in favour
of the generators and big energy
users,” party leader Winston Peters
said. “ Rubbing salt into the wound
are the huge after-tax profits of
State-owned Transpower. The
Government could easily use the
$73.8m it earned in just the six
months to 31 December 2014 to
smooth electricity line charges. ”
Submissions have now closed on the
No scrub fire
The Greymouth Volunteer Fire
Brigade was called to a vegetation
fire in the Chesterfield Street area
about 6.30pm yesterday. Greymouth
senior station officer Colin Thomas
said a member of the public spotted
something in the vicinity of the
Suburbs-Karoro grounds and with
good intent called emergency
ser vices, but when the brigade
arrived there was no evidence of a
Heavy rain easing
Greymouth Star On-line
Aliens came to Earth to stop
a nuclear war between America
and Russia, according the bizarre
claim of a former astronaut.
Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man
to walk on the moon, says high-
ranking military officials witnessed
alien ships during weapons tests
throughout the 1940s. The UFOs,
he says, were spotted hovering over
the world’s first nuclear weapons
test which took place on July 16,
1945 in the desolate White Sands
deserts of New Mexico. The Nasa
veteran has regularly spoken about
his belief in aliens ever since he
landed on the surface of the moon
during the Apollo 14 mission in
The West Coast police management
team is heading to the Employment
Court, after dropping High Court
Inspector John Canning and senior
sergeants Allyson Ealam and Phillip
Barker instigated defamation action
against Tasman district commander
Superintendent Karyn Malthus.
Ms Malthus made comments to the
media in early June after delivering
a performance report in late May.
The report was commissioned by Ms
Malthus earlier this year and compiled
by police psychologist senior sergeant
Iain Saunders, who inter viewed West
Coast police staff. At the time some
described the process as a “witch
The management team’s lawyer,
Grant Cameron, said today that
following negotiations with the Police
Department early this week, the
defamation action in the High Court
had been withdrawn.
However, the alleged matters which
led to Ms Malthus’s comments in
the Greymouth Star and Hokitika
Guardian would now be resolved in
another way, Mr Cameron said today.
Mr Cameron said his clients were
left with a simple decision and
withdrawing the defamation claim
and pursuing alternative action
through the Employment Court
would “mop up” everything in one set
“The matter will still proceed —
it will just be in the Employment
Court,” he said.
Other matters had been at play
affecting the employment of the
senior management team prior to
and after Ms Malthus commenting in
June, Mr Cameron said, but he would
not give details.
However, resolving those matters
was “highly likely” in the Employment
The New Zealand Police Association
and the NZ Sergeants Guild were
supporting an alternative legal
resolution now the defamation action
had been withdrawn, Mr Cameron
The group defamation claim was
filed in the Wellington High Court
last month and subsequently ser ved
on Ms Malthus. It was withdrawn on
Tuesday following negotiation with
Mr Cameron said the decision to
withdraw was based on the tactical
cost of three individuals taking on the
“deep pocketed” entity of the police
hierarchy which could sue for court
costs. However, the withdrawal sent “a
very clear message” from their point of
view, he said.
“The proceedings were filed on
expert barrister advice. In the course
of making our further investigations
we found that there are employment
issues that existed prior to the alleged
defamation and there have been
performance issues since.”
Mr Canning, Mrs Ealam and Mr
Barker returned to work together at
the Greymouth Police Station on
July 20 in their normal roles “as a
result of communications with the
West Coast police headed to the Employment Court
The West Coast Regional,
Grey, Buller, Waikato and
Southland councils have spent
weeks hammering out a deal
with Treasury to ensure the Solid
Energy bonds to rehabilitate
mine sites are in place.
Solid Energy said today it was
in voluntary administration.
Regional council consents
Jackie Adams, said lawyers
had looked at the environment
bond agreement and they were
confident it was better than
what was in place before. It adds
in money to rehabilitate former
Coal Corp sites, mainly at
Stockton. Mr Adams said if the
company went into liquidation
later, the bonds were secure.
He said the councils were
initially unhappy with what was
offered, and over several weeks
fought for a better deal.
“ We didn’t want ratepayers
caught out by this.” They were
now happy with the agreement.
Mr Adams said the new dollar
value was confidential.
The old bonds were Stockton
and Cypress ($48 million),
Island Block (Reefton) $3
million, Spring Creek $50,000,
Strongman $3.5 million and
Reddale (Reefton) $3.8 million.
Meanwhile, Grey District
Mayor Tony Kokshoorn is
planning a trip to Wellington to
discuss the future of the Coast.
He said coal royalties had been
received by Government over
145 years with minimal re-
investment back into the Coast.
“Solid Energy had a duty of
care to their loyal workers on
the coal face but instead have
completely let us down by
accumulating $320m of debt.
“ You could say that this is
emotive but if you witness
the stress families go through
having to relocate to other
regions and finding employment
and housing, it is not a nice
In 2009, Solid Energy
employed 1100 workers on the
West Coast; now it was 300.
The State, the administrator
and councils had a social
responsibility to find new
owners and opportunities for
existing profitable mines within
the region, he said.
Opinion piece, p4.
Solid Energy ’s announcement
that it will go into administration
could have a domino effect and
send the Midland Line railway
into crisis, Grey District Mayor
Tony Kokshoorn says.
Mr Kokshoorn said today that
any possibility of lower tonnages
of coal would place the Midland
Line between the Coast and
Christchurch in jeopardy.
“The domino effect will lead to
a Midland Line crisis.”
He questioned if there would
be enough tonnage and goods
going over it now.
“Does it make it profitable or
not? What are the effects of this?
Treasury is already on record as
suggesting to the government
that rail is not needed in New
Zealand. There are serious issues
we need to look at.”
A Kiwi Rail spokesman said
this morning the company was
monitoring the situation at
Solid Energy very closely.
“This is a difficult and
uncertain time for the West
Coast community, including our
staff there. O ver time we have
been adjusting to Solid Energy’s
reduced coal volumes.” In the
meantime usual ser vices would
The line also carries shipments
from Westland Milk Products,
as well as the Tranz Alpine
“ We are certainly keen
to protect our significant
investment in that line.”
Mine rehabilitation money safe
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
Fitter and turner Nathan Lee starts to reassemble Shantytown’s Kaitangata steam locomotive today as work continues on its restora-
tion. The project made some big advances recently, with the boiler cladding put on last week and the funnel installed this week. The
boiler has 108 pipes running through it, which heat the 2000 litres of water to generate steam to drive the train — “the opposite of a
wetback”, steam manager Ian Tibbles said. The restoration is about halfway through with the water tanks still to be put on and painted.
Midland line ‘in jeopardy’
Train restoration on track
The Solid Energy board has put the company
into voluntary administration, and wants to
start selling off its assets as a going concern.
The move effectively freezes more than
$300 million of debt and gives the company and
its subsidiaries, breathing space.
During the five-week voluntary administration
period, no jobs will be lost and mines will
continue to operate.
Worker numbers on the West Coast have
already fallen from 1100 to 300.
“Solid Energy’s workers and the West Coast
community face two more years of uncertainty,”
Labour leader Andrew Little said.
“ While there is relief that worker entitlements
such as redundancies may be protected and
that some jobs will be saved, there is a lot of
work to be done in the region to create new
opportunities after the loss of hundreds of jobs
in mining industries over the past two years.”
The Government owed Westport a rigorous
regional development strategy, he said.
Solid Energy acting chairman Andy Coupe,
said in the face of dramatic declines in the
price of hard coking coal, the company made
significant gains in cost-reduction and operating
However, the market had continued to fall
and there was still no near-term prospect of any
The board is proposing to its creditors that
operations continue under a Deed of Company
The company denied it was just a stay of
“In the board’s view, that (DOCA) is far
preferable to an immediate liquidation.”
Under the proposal, Solid Energy would
engage an investment bank to sell its assets over
the next two and a half years.
From today, the administrators will take full
control of the companies for five weeks.
Korda Mentha partner and Solid Energy
administrator Brendon Gibson, said voluntary
administration was a short-term measure
that effectively froze the companies’ financial
“ We are mindful that SENZ is a large business
with over 1500 creditors who will be entitled to
vote on the proposal.”
A first meeting of creditors will be held within
eight working days and a second ‘watershed ’
meeting within 25.
Creditors will be asked to vote on three options
for each company in voluntary administration,
including two Spring Creek subsidiaries: execute
a DOCA; put the company into liquidation; or
return the company to the directors.
If the board’s proposal is accepted, the business
will continue trading while the asset sale process
If an asset is then sold, employees will either
transfer to the new owner or be made redundant
on the basis of their existing entitlements. If an
operation or asset can not be sold, it will be
Finance Minister Bill English said under the
proposal, Solid Energy would remain solvent
during the two and a half-year sales process.
“In a situation like this, there are a number
of different parties who can effectively pull
the plug on the company at any time. Through
a lot of hard work and goodwill we have a
proposal that should avoid that,” State-owned
Enterprises Minister Todd McClay said.
“The Government was prepared to provide
further support for the company if there was
a reasonable chance it could be made viable.
We have worked intensively with the company
and its banks on a number of options for the
company to continue operating in its current
form, but unfortunately none of these proved
Details of the proposal, p2.
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