Weekend Herald Investigates Smart
Saturday, August 3, 2019 at 4:32PM
Bill Barclay

Some dirty little secrets are emerging in the first iteration of a Weekend Herald  investigation by Mike Valentine into what appear to be some nefarious activities by and through Smart Environmental that may or may not have been known about by our Council and/or its employees.

They specifically involve the manner in which waste has been dumped at ours and other transfer stations operated by Smart on behalf of councils in the Western Waikato. At first sight and because of the credibility of the 'whistle-blowers,' the finger appears to point directly at management, and in particular Mr Graeme Christian, who has now conveniently disposed of his shareholding in the company to a multi-national.

That sale also greatly benefited all of the executive team, apparently including Mr Benjamin Day who was well known here before and after he was appointed deputy chief executive during Hammond's tenure as Chief Executive. He was later hired by Christian to run Smart's Tauranga operation following his abortive attempt to manage an Economic Development Committee for the Council - one of Mayor Leach's less illustrious innovations, and to which he appointed Christian. This Committee achieved 'sweet Fanny Adams' during its time, and was swiftly disposed of with the advent of Mayor Goudie and new CEO Rob Williams, along with Day.           

It seems that there has been even more going on that now warrants the attention of the Auditor General, and when the full truth emerges, we may find that the Company, and quite possibly certain individuals may be in a great deal of trouble. Just let us wait and see where the investigations lead us, but the allegations of breaking into the transfer station, and illicit dumping in the 'dead of night' does sound rather like the modus operandi  of the Soprano's, and not at all the stuff of normal Thames drama. Actually, I think it was the Gambino family that was 'up to its neck' in NY waste disposal - it is certainly a demonstably distasteful activity for Council staff here, and everywhere else it seems. 

My only concern on which I have previously posted relates to a matter touched on in the report regarding the attempt currently under way to get Council and Government agreement to take responsibility for disposing of the mountains of plastic and paper previously dispatched to places unknown under the terms of a supposedly 'tight' contract. Christian, who has reportedly taken tens of millions from the Company sale,  has mounted a strong campaign in that regard, and our mayors and even Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage seem well disposed to the idea -what suckers!

Here is an extract from Mike Valentine's report that relates to preceeding matter:

"The company is contracted to pay Thames Coromandel District Council $181 per tonne of waste — but appears to have been paying $77.05 per tonne, documents show.

The council has confirmed it is working with "appropriate authorities" to identify whether there is any evidence of illegal activity or contractual breaches.

Smart manages the council's seven transfer stations. The council investigation centres on whether Smart introduced the discount without advising or negotiating with the council in what sources believe would be in breach of a council contract."


 "A former member of Christian's team said the "discount" was introduced in May last year after the company failed in its attempts to get compensation for the "Chinese situation", which had resulted in a ban on taking and paying for recycling.

That was despite the contract with the council, which states Smart took the risk and the rewards of recycling prices. The council had required the company to undertake a risk analysis before signing"

I hesitate to draw attention to the plastic stack fires over recent months. As one commenter has said - "where there is smoke, there is fire," Perhaps in the light of the Weekend Herald report, they do warrant closer investigation - just sayin'!


Update on Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 8:24PM by Registered CommenterBill Barclay

There was an extraordinary response to this post -well over 700 hits in 24 hours - including over 300 in the first two hours.

I wonder why the story resonated with so many people - it must have rung a few bells with people who have wondered just what has been going on in this area over the last few years.

I have no doubt that the Weekend Herald will be following up on the story - it must surely have brought about a similar readership blip on their radar.

I will certainly follow it closely, and welcome any contribution from anyone that has verifiable information that may be of interest to readers.of this blog. 




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
See website for complete article licensing information.