Community Misled - Council Calls For Apology

Apr 18, 2008

A newspaper article that appeared in the Queenstown Lakes District yesterday had left the community badly misinformed, QLDC general manager finance and deputy chief executive Stewart Burns said.

The council was so concerned by the level of misinformation that it had taken the unprecedented action of responding in a general press release.

"The front page article 'Over rated' by Frank Marvin in yesterday's edition of the Mountain Scene was so alarmingly inaccurate that we could not with all conscience allow our community to go for an entire week before the paper had an opportunity to make a correction," Mr Burns said.

The article carried inaccurate figures, false comparisons and some completely unfounded statements.

"The result is totally misleading and we have requested the newspaper publish a correction and an apology to the council and the community," Mr Burns said.

The article contained the following major inaccuracies:

The headline 'Over rated - QLDC scoops up $36 million in unbudgeted rates income' was based on an error and cannot be substantiated by any analysis or by the newspaper. The correct position is that rates income is only 0.75 percent over budget (ie less than 1 percent). That is equivalent to approximately $1 million over five years, or $200,000 per annum.
The Mountain Scene calculation omitted the budget for development contributions, which amounts to a $30 million error.
"There were also a number of other serious errors that the council will defer to the Mountain Scene to correct," Mr Burns said.

The council was very concerned that only accurate facts were reported to allow informed debate. Particularly given that the council was engaging the community on the draft Annual Plan.

"We want debate, we want feedback but we need people to be armed with the facts, anything else is a disservice to the community," Mr Burns said.

Anyone was welcome to attend the council's feedback sessions from 3-6pm at the Lake Wanaka Centre on Wednesday 23 April and the Queenstown Primary School Hall on Thursday 24 April.


For further information please contact Stewart Burns 03 441 0499

By: Tamah