The Auditor Gerneral has called on trustees of the West Coast Development Trust to sort out their problems or stand down.
He says the Trust which was set up to administer $92 million given to the Coast to compensate for the ban on logging native forests, is so dysfunctional and divided that it can’t be trusted to do its job.
The auditor-general’s report released today paints a picture of trustees infighting with allegations of corruption being thrown around and counter-allegations of leaking confidential information.
The auditor-general said the situation was so serious that trustees should sort it out immediately or just stand down.
“Unlike other public entities with elected board, there is no other ready mechanism for resolving this level of dysfunction,” the report said.
“Until we see evidence that the group of trustees is able to take effective collective responsibility for the governance of the trust, we are unable to provide assurance that the trust is able to deliver fully on its purpose of generating sustainable employment opportunities and economic benefits for the people of the West Coast.”
A trust fund is a poor substitute for business and I suspect the logging ban may also have had negative environmental consequences.
The ban was a dog whistle political appeal to mainly urban, liberal, green (and Green) voters but I wonder if it was a not-in-my-back-yard approach to conservation which protects our forests but does more damage to others. The ban stopped the sustainable logging of native trees on the Coast, and the pest control which went with it. But has it also resulted in the increase of imported timber from clear-felled rain forests?