DOC's Mad King - Where is accountability?
This page is about Al Morrison the New Zealand Department of Conservation's (DOC's) previous Director General (pictured below).
By the time I left DOC in 2013 I regarded this man's leadership to be like that of the mad King Denethor in the Lord of the Rings. (Denethor was bewitched by the evil Lord Sauron into almost handing over the last great bastion of Gondor to Sauron.)
Al Morison’s performance was such that he implemented years of ongoing restructurings, leading to DOC (a public service dealing with conservation) adopting a "full-on business operating model based on supply and demand" just before he left. Eighteen months after completion these restructurings were reported in national newspapers as being “slated” by an independent consultant and were described by commentators as a “debacle” that “was never going to work” (see media articles below).
Added to this is surely the question as to whether Mr Morrison, a senior public servant, acted with integrity in upholding the interests of the New Zealand public by acting in a manner consistent with the nation’s law (by his own admission in a North and South magazine article in March 2012 (shown below) he stated that he was “testing the limits and interpretation of the Conservation Act”).
And lets be clear. This is not some small bananas affair. Mr Morrison believed he was acting in regard to “managing the assets of one of the biggest exchange earning industries in New Zealand” (his own words in the North and South article) where Chinese investors were considering investing "$US10-20 billion” (to quote the NZ Prime Minister in the NZ Herald 8 May 2013). In fact, the DOC vision statement "New Zealand is the greatest living space on earth" actually appears to be a Tourism marketing brand/statement (see Mr Morrison's 2009 speech below entitled "The Environment and the Economy" pages 6-8).
Yet what was this man's reward for his disastrous performance and questionable integrity as a senior public servant? He got a promotion to a high ranking job in the State Service Commission where he (quote the press statement 24 April 2013) “…brings outstanding experience at leading and implementing major change and is an excellent communicator which will be of great benefit in his work across the State sector”.
Really? This bodes so well for the future of New Zealand! Surely, if this matter is left as it is, where does the buck stop? Where is accountability? If there is no accountability, what else is one left with other than a distinctly powerful stench of corruption at the very highest level?
Perhaps the real fact of the matter is that it does not matter to the current NZ government that the prolonged DOC restructure was a debacle? Perhaps the real fact is that it does not matter to the government because the outcome of the restructure was irrelevant to its real purpose? Perhaps the real purpose of the prolonged and massively disruptive restructure was to be a smokescreen covering the real aim of opening up the Conservation estate to exploitation by foreign investors and other big money interests?
Judge for yourself.
1. The outline of the story can be seen in the attachment "The Stealthy Privatization of DOC" (press the button below)
2. Attached is a video clip below of the mad king saying how DOC staff had "got it" (his mad vision - which they hadn't) and that if they didn't "get on board", to find another job.
3. Attached below are samples of national newspaper articles highly critical of the outcome of Al Morrison's changes.
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4. Below are references for items mentioned in the story above about DOC's Mad King.