Copy of the pre-complaint letter to the Mayor of Dunedin
14 April 1998
The Mayor Of Dunedin
Mrs S Turner
P.O. Box 5045
Dear Mayor Turner,
Thank you for your letter of 7 April.
The Centre regrets that you have chosen to ignore the main thrust of its
arguments, which were based on the principles of the value of human life,
democracy and morality, and to concentrate instead on legal matters. The
Centre considers matters of law of secondary importance because no civilised,
democratic society can function without political leaders of high principle.
You have apparently chosen to ignore matters of principle.
With regard to law, you will be aware that very few actions of the government
of Nazi Germany were illegal, because that government passed laws legalising
its activities, but as Nuremberg showed, it was still guilty of crimes against
The Centre also regrets the tone of your letter which implies that it is
in some way under the control of the Council and subject to its authority
- it is not. The reverse is the case in that the Dunedin City Council is
answerable to any and all citizens who question it. It exists to serve the
people of Dunedin; not its own interests. The Centre would like to draw to
your attention if it may, the fact that the Centre and the Centre alone will
decide what to do with information it has access to and the fact that such
sentences as :
|" I look forward to receiving precise information from you as soon as
are only a further example of the authoritarian and patronising attitude
of the Dunedin City Council that was drawn to your attention in the Centre's
letter of 2 April.
It is this attitude toward the people of New Zealand by those in positions
of power, that cause the Centre to have concerns for the enlightened development
of the people of this country.
Human beings are not objects to be used by the Dunedin City Council as it
sees fit and neither is the Centre.
With regard to depth psychology, the Centre's main concern with respect to
the attitude of the Dunedin City Council, is that so very many people associated
with that body are unaware of the fact that their psychological processes
are moving more and more towards a concept of human beings as inanimate objects.
It is of interest to the Centre that the DCC no longer has a Personnel section
but instead calls that section "Human Resources." For which group of human
beings in the DCC are another group of human beings a "resource"?
The Centre had hoped that on this occasion the Dunedin City Council would
show that it was a psychologically mature, competently run organisation that
would already be aware of any possible misinterpretations of the requirements
regarding Task Force Green and would have been able to clarify the position.
It would appear that that is simply not the case.
The Centre notes that on a previous occasion Mr Douglas saw fit to neither
reply to, nor acknowledge receipt of, a letter from the Centre dated 19 March
1997 on the subject of international law, Task Force Green and the morality
of the DCC in taking part in such schemes. This behaviour was despite Mr
Douglas' public statements that all correspondence to the Dunedin City Council
Some two months later, in a letter dated 12 May 1997, that same matter was
taken up with you as the senior representative of the people. You acknowledged
receipt of the letter but chose to ignore the substantive matters.
It is also noted that in your letter to the Centre of 7 April you have once
again chosen to ignore the substance of the Centre's letter.
Because of the ongoing refusal by an elected body in a democracy to deal
with these matters, the Centre deeply regrets to inform you that it can no
longer repose confidence in either the Chief Executive Mr Douglas, or yourself,
the Mayor of Dunedin. For that reason it is not intended, at this stage,
to disclose to you any of the documentary evidence the Centre has access
to. This decision is an interim one only and may be reversed at some later
The Centre would also like to correct your apparent misunderstanding of the
Centre's position with regard to declarations made by Council staff. The
Centre has never alleged and does not now allege wrong doing on the part
of Council staff. The Centre was under the impression that it was clearly
stated that wrong doing was only possible wrong doing and now states this
categorically as your letter indicates that you appear to be confused about
The Centre has access to documents which appear to indicate to lay people
that information that was required to be collected by the DCC as a statutory
duty, was in fact collected by Task Force Green personnel, and that the person
responsible for arranging for Task Force Green personnel to be so employed,
was aware of the statutory nature of the work. These documents leave open
the question of whether or not any declaration that claimed that the work
would not be done except for the existence of Task Force Green - when it
was known that the work was required to be done by law - was truthful.
With regard to the other matters raised in its letter, the Centre now freely
admits that, by you taking the concrete literal view - a method of cognitive
operation not unknown in the Dunedin City Council - that the only acceptable
evidence is legal evidence, there is now very little the Centre can do, as
it has guaranteed anonymity to its sources. If you are not prepared to quietly
investigate the morality of the functions of the DCC, then the matter now
becomes a political one to be resolved by voters in terms of whether they
want a Council with this world view to continue running their affairs.
As the Centre is a non-political organisation that exits to contribute to
the development of New Zealand society, political matters fall outside its
There is however one example to which the writer can attest which involves
maintenance of records in Environmental Health. The evidence in this matter
is also more likely to be moral, involving duplicity, rather than any breaking
of the law.
Either the Dunedin City Council does or does not carry out a record keeping
function as part of its day to day operations. If any record keeping function
is carried out - be it a requirement of statutory law or not - then the
maintenance of those records - be they on paper, microfiche or computer -
is, by definition, part of the record keeping function.
It is only necessary to look at the work of the Land Information Management
Unit for example, to see that they are regularly adding, ending, and modifying
both person and property ID's. This work is obviously part of record keeping.
How then does the Dunedin City Council claim that in the case of Environmental
Health records, this same kind of adding, ending and modifying of existing
data would not be done but for the existence of Task Force Green?
Both the manual and computer record systems are in disarray, presumably as
a result of incompetent management. Either because the Council has chosen
to not employ sufficient staff to keep these records accurate, as they have
done for LIMU, or because the staff in Environmental Health were either too
busy, or consider that clerical work is not their function, Task Force Green
staff were and are employed to maintain the record systems of Environmental
Because a declaration was made that this work would not be done but for the
existence of Task Force Green - (the Centre has access to a copy) - does
that not mean that it is now Council policy to only use Task Force Green
staff to maintain the records systems of Environmental Health?
It also appears to mean that if the application for Task Force Green assistance
was declined, then the Council would not under any circumstances go ahead
with maintenance of the existing records.
If a declaration has been made that maintaining the existing records of
Environmental Health would not be done but for Task Force Green, how can
the Council then use its own staff to continue to maintain these records
after the Task Force Green people leave - which the Council intends to do?
The staff may already be entering their own inspection data, while the Task
Force Green employee sits in the same room checking data on the same system.
The Centre makes the point again. Either the Dunedin City Council does or
does not carry out a record keeping function as part of its day to day
The claim that Environmental Health would never ever maintain the information
in its existing record systems - which is what the declaration means - fails
the test of psychological verisimilitude. This is because the Council is
committed to introducing the staff of that section to higher computer usage
to maximise the use of its computer systems.
There are currently hundreds of computer terminals being used by staff in
other departments to maintain record systems and to bring the Environmental
Health section into line with Council thinking in this area, the work would
have to be done.
It is also the case that if there was no cheap labour available through work
schemes, the Council would be forced to employ people on the open market
to do this work.
Is there a possibility then of a false declaration in this matter, or is
it simply a case of using cheap labour to avoid having to pay market rates
for staff; in order to keep down the rates bills of those in work in Dunedin?
It is suggested that in the matter of the work being done by Task Force Green
in the area of the records systems of Environmental Health, there is either
a possible abuse of the law, or a possible abuse of morality.
J M STEVENSON (Mr)