A formal investigation will be undertaken by the Chief Ombudsman into complaints from Auckland councillors about the release of the central city stadium reports.
The complaints relate to the Auckland Council's decision to impose conditions on the release of the $923,000 PwC reports commissioned by Regional Facilities Auckland upon request from Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier says the first stage of his investigation has now started. "I have written to the chief executive of Auckland Council [Stephen Town] and notified the complainants," he said in a statement on Thursday.
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Mr Boshier said he's "unable to comment any further" as he is required by law to "treat all evidence as confidential and all enquiries secret." However, he said he does wish to complete his investigation "as soon as possible given the high public interest in this case."
Nine Auckland councillors wrote to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff on Wednesday to express their "strong dissatisfaction" at his "non-inclusive" style of leadership. Almost half of Auckland's 19-strong council signed the letter accusing Mr Goff of not giving full access to the reports on a proposed downtown stadium for Auckland.
"This was a ratepayer funded report," the letter says, going on to criticise the "significant sum of money" spent on the reports. The letter says Regional Facilities Auckland had "extensive involvement" in the report and that it shouldn't have been so expensive.
"As we understand it the original quote was for a fee of 'up to $600k' for the work outlined," the letter adds. "A further $355k in cost was then added when you [Mr Goff] personally requested more information on the funding options for a stadium."
The councillors said they were only shown the reports by Mr Goff after an LGOIMA request from the media which was subsequently appealed successfully to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Mr Goff made no attempt to inform them of the contents of the reports for nearly a year, the councillors said, adding that his lack of action "falls short of the sort of transparency and inclusiveness we would expect in such a significant matter as this concerning a potential $1.5 billion stadium."
Even after Mr Goff was forced by the Ombudsman to release the reports, the councillors claim the copies emailed to them were "so heavily redacted so as to make the value of these documents in such a heavily censored form, questionable to say the least".
Mr Goff told The AM Show on Wednesday the Ombudsman was "happy" with his response that he had to be careful with the confidential information contained in the report, hence his actions in being careful about who could access the reports.