By Rebecca Quilliam, Adam Bennett
Shane Taurima, head of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific unit, resigned last night after it was revealed he facilitated a discussion about the Maori vote at a Labour hui held at TVNZ. Photo / NZ Herald
Former TVNZ executive Shane Taurima has “categorically denied” his political affiliations influenced editorial decisions following revelations the state broadcaster’s offices were used to host at least one Labour meeting.
Mr Taurima resigned after revelations last night that he took part in a Labour Party hui and that at least one Labour meeting was held at the TVNZ building.
Read Shane Taurima’s media statement here.
3News reported last night that TVNZ offices were used to host a meeting of Labour’s Tamaki Makaurau branch last year.
TVNZ staff emails were also used to organise a subsequent hui in January this year which Labour leader David Cunliffe and several others MPs attended.
Mr Taurima, the head of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific unit, had acted as a facilitator in a discussion about the Maori vote at that January hui and three other TVNZ staff were also invited.
He had put his name forward to be Labour’s candidate in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection last year but was beaten by Meka Whaitiri. Mr Taurima stood down from his TVNZ role during the selection, but was given the job back afterwards.
Mr Taurima resigned yesterday afternoon following the revelations.
In statement this morning he said he fully accepted that some of his actions in supporting the Labour Party crossed a line.
Mr Taurima said he had been a member of the Labour Party since contesting the Ikaroa-Rawhiti candidacy in 2013.
“I have attended party hui and fully accept that some of my actions in supporting Labour may be seen to have crossed the line and I apologise unreservedly.
“I categorically deny that my political affiliations have had any influence on any editorial decision that I have made during this time or at any time in the more than 12 years that I have been honoured to work in many roles at TVNZ.
“However, questions have been raised that have brought into question the integrity of the crucial work of my colleagues at TVNZ. This is unfair and unacceptable and as a result I have resigned.”
He denied that other staff members in his former unit were political activists.
– Cunliffe ‘not aware’ meeting held at TVNZ –
Labour leader David Cunliffe told RNZ this morning he was not aware until yesterday that a Labour Party meeting had been held at a TVNZ office.
“Mr Taurima is no doubt a very good person but he has shown a lapse of judgement in that regard and that is now a matter for him and his former employer.”
Media should be “neutral and unbiased and free from political influence and involvement”, Mr Cunliffe said.
He said he had never attended a political meeting at a TVNZ building.
– TVNZ head of news: It reflects badly on us –
TVNZ head of news John Gillespie said the events reflected badly on the whole of TVNZ.
“I have to say that we are gutted by that…we take our editorial independence incredibly seriously – it’s a cornerstone of what we do here everyday, it always will be a cornerstone of what we do here every day.
“These people have nailed their political colours to a TVNZ mast. It is untenable.”
He said an investigation would look into whether there were any other anomalies.
“This goes to the heart of our editorial values and independence and it’s something that we just can’t abide by.”
Mr Taurima had been upfront that he was considering standing for Labour in Tamaki Makaurau at the next election and had briefed his bosses last week, Mr Gillespie said.
However, TVNZ had not known of Mr Taurima’s involvement in the January hui or about the use of TVNZ offices to hold a Labour Party meeting, he said.
Prime Minister John Key told TV3’s Firstline programme today the revelations were not a “good look” for the country’s state broadcaster.
“This will just be embarrassing for Television New Zealand and they’ll want to make sure they get to the bottom of it.”
Mr Key told reporters at Parliament this morning that while the incident risked giving a perception of bias at TVNZ, “which I do not believe is there”.
“In my experience they’re extremely fair.”
He said when he had been interviewed by Mr Taurima, the interviews were “robust”.
“But the truth is I have a lot of robust interviews and I don’t have a beef against him.”
Asked about Mr Taurima returning to work at the state broadcaster after he’d tried to secure the Labour nomination for Ikaroa Rawhiti last year, Mr Key said it was “in the camp of odd but not entirely unusual”.
He wouldn’t pass judgment about whether the incident suggested Mr Taurima was not fit to stand for Parliament.
Mr Key said the Labour Party had handle the situation badly so far.
“They won’t seem to explain what their position is. I’ve seen their statement, it’s incredibly short. It’s serious matter but on the other side of the coin they’ve got a perspective they should put that perspective out there.”
Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss said he was disappointed by yesterday’s revelations.
“I have spoken to the chairman of TVNZ. He assures me there are procedures in place for this not to happen. He’s spoken to the CEO of TVNZ. I understand an internal investigation has been launched.”
Mr Foss would not comment on whether he believed TVNZ’s coverage had been biased other than to say he was concerned that all media organisations adhered to the Broadcasting Act.
“As long as they do, and I’ve been given the assurance that TVNZ is, I’m comfortable.”
Source : The New Zealand Herald
February 18, 2014 – 12:04PM
Nicole Hasham, Matt O’Sullivan
At least two Sydney petrol stations have completely run out of fuel after fuel tankers from the troubled Cootes fleet were taken off the road.
The BP at Haberfield in Sydney’s inner west is displaying signs on bowsers apologising for the “current disruption to the supply of fuel in Sydney” and telling customers the problem is “industry-wide and is the result of short-term logistics constraints”.
It is understood the station ran out of fuel yesterday.
In Naremburn, another BP station has also run out of all types of petrol.
Cootes delivers fuel to more than one-third of NSW’s petrol stations: BP, 7-Eleven and Shell, including the Shell-branded Coles Express sites.
The company grounded trucks in Victoria last week amid safety concerns and a number of vehicles are off the road in NSW after Roads Minister Duncan Gay ordered full compliance inspections.
BP confirmed on Monday that a shortage of Cootes trucks had disrupted the company’s distribution network and stations in Sydney had run out of some types of petrol.
Company spokesman Jamie Jardine was unable to say how many of its 424 NSW stations had run short because the situation was changing “hour by hour”.
Asked on Tuesday how many BP stations had run completely dry, Mr Jardine said “I’m not in a position to provide a running commentary on stocks at individual service stations”.
“We are using all the resources available to us to maximise supply to our service stations and customers. We would urge our customers not to change their buying patterns,” he added.
Service Station Association senior manager Colin Long said petrol companies who relied solely on Cootes for transport “are going to have problems”.
He added that other fuel retailers, such as Caltex and independent stations, “have their own transport” and were not affected.
One smh.com.au reader reported petrol shortages at a Caltex and independent petrol station on Tuesday morning, saying he almost ran out of petrol.
Mr Long said motorists who could not find their normal grade of fuel may “shop around” at other petrol stations, however shortages at other branded stations would be “isolated”.
McAleese, the owner of Cootes Transport, is due to reveal on Tuesday the magnitude of the hit to its earnings from the crackdown on its trucking fleet in NSW and Victoria.
The transport company sought an extra day to prepare a review of the timing and details of a restructure of Cootes, which employs about 1000 people, after seeking a suspension of trading from the stock exchange.
Authorities made snap inspections of Cootes’ fuel tankers in Victoria on Friday, which led to the grounding of 25 of the 35 trucks and trailers inspected. Faults included defects in brakes, air bags, loose bolts and oil leaks.
McAleese also faces the possibility of law firms encouraging shareholders to consider class actions.
The loss of the contracts came just three months after two people were killed and five injured when a Cootes fuel tanker lost control on a bend in Sydney’s northern suburbs and burst into flames.
Authorities in NSW and Victoria have also issued Cootes with hundreds of defect notices, including those for ineffective brakes, oil and fuel leaks, steering, axle, suspension and exhaust failures, broken engine mounts and tread peeling from tyres.
A number of service stations contacted by Fairfax Media on Monday reported fuel shortages, especially of E-10 petrol.
If VicRoads or the Roads and Maritime Services continue to refuse to allow Cootes tankers onto the road, supplies to fuel retailers across Sydney are expected to remain patchy.
Shell and 7-Eleven have about 350 petrol stations between them in NSW and are also serviced by Cootes.
On Monday, Shell spokesman Paul Zennaro would not say whether stations had run out of fuel, adding “we are monitoring the situation very closely … we are managing the situation with the available fleet that we have”.
He said Shell also used other haulers, but urged customers “not to change their normal buying habits and only buy fuel when they need to”.
A 7-Eleven spokeswoman would not confirm if fuel shortages had occurred, but said the number of tankers available to supply its stores “may be reduced, and therefore supply may be affected”.
Cootes has been under intense scrutiny since last October when one of its petrol tankers was involved a fiery crash in Mona Vale which killed two people.
Authorities in NSW and Victoria have issued Cootes with hundreds of defect notices. They include notices for ineffective brakes, oil and fuel leaks, steering, axle, suspension and exhaust failures, broken engine mounts and tread peeling from tyres.
Mr Gay told the ABC on Tuesday that while some trucks were off the road, “we don’t apologise for putting safety and people’s lives ahead of anything else”.
“It is a situation that we’ve been closely monitoring and we do believe there is enough fleet operating if people are sensible,” he said.
He has threatened to ground the entire Cootes fleet in NSW – a move Service Stations Association senior manager Colin Long said “would have a substantial impact” on fuel supplies in NSW.
Shell and BP both plan to switch to other haulage companies.
Cootes, whose fuel tankers are owned by McAleese, was placed in a trading halt on Thursday after warning that it was reviewing its earnings forecast for this financial year, in light of trading conditions last month.
“I don’t imagine it will be overly pretty,” a fund manager, who declined to be named, said of the anticipated hit to McAleese’s earnings this year.
“The Cootes business has obviously got some compliance issues. They are going to have to be squeaky clean because they are going to continue to get audited.”
McAleese shares plunged 29 per cent last month after it revealed it had lost the key Shell and BP haulage contracts.
The transport company has forecast that it stands to lose about $93 million a year from the loss of those contracts and its decision to drop fuel haulage contracts with 7-Eleven in NSW and Queensland.
McAleese floated on the Australian stock exchange in late November at $1.47 a share but last traded at just $1.10 a share before it was placed in a halt on Thursday.
A spokesman for Mr Gay’s office said they did not know when the inspections would be finished, but the minister would wait until their completion to decide whether to ground the fleet.
February 18, 2014 – 11:19AM
Online Sport Producer
Confirmed: Alessandro Del Piero will feature for the A-League All Stars. Photo: Getty Images
Sydney FC star Alessandro del Piero has confirmed he will play for the A-League All Stars when they tackle Juventus in Sydney this August.
The Italian striker will line-up against his former club for the first time since leaving the club following a trophy-laden 19 years of which he spent 11 as captain, scoring an impressive 290 goals in 705 matches.
The most successful Italian club is sure to generate interest and will bring a full strength squad to Australia for the match to be held at ANZ Stadium on August 10.
Reunited: Juventus legends Edgar Davids and Alessandro del Piero in Sydney on Tuesday. Photo: Sebastian Hassett
“To have a club of the calibre of Juventus FC come to Sydney is a massive coup for football in Australia,” said A-League CEO David Gallop.
“To put it into perspective, it’s very possible that of the 24 players in the Juventus FC first team squad, 16 players could be at the 2014 FIFA World Cup representing eight different nations.
“This match will be a fantastic opportunity for fans to see the best of the Hyundai A-League line-up against some of the world’s best international footballers in our own backyard.”
The match will garner interest in the country and overseas with Juventus’ world-wide fan base in the region of of 250 million.
Advance tickets go on sale today with general sale to commence 11am Friday 21 February.
February 18, 2014 – 11:59AM
Virgin has opposed moving its operations to the international terminal at Sydney airport.
Sydney Airport’s latest master plan, which calls for combining domestic and international operations at shared terminals, has been approved by the Federal Government.
Infrastructure and Regional Services Minister Warren Truss had until Wednesday to approve the plan submitted in December unless he wanted to “stop the clock” and ask for more information.
No public announcement has yet been made, but on Tuesday morning Sydney Airport’s website said the Australian government had approved the plan on Monday.
It is understood Sydney Airport received a letter from the minister’s office approving the plan after the close of business on Monday. The letter has since been taken off the website.
The master plan for the next 20 years is based on no changes to the curfew, aircraft movement cap, noise sharing, access arrangements or flight paths.
But it will allow the airport to combine domestic and international operations to help maximise capacity if it can reach agreement with the airlines. To date, Virgin Australia has opposed the prospect of moving its domestic and international operations to the current international terminal, which is located further away from the CBD.
Sydney Airport might also need to reach an agreement with Qantas on buying back the lease on Terminal 3 if it would like to combine domestic and international operations in the current domestic precinct before the lease expires in 2019.
In a draft version of its master plan, Sydney Airport said it had enough capacity to remain as the only major airport in Sydney until 2033.
However, the government is expected to select Badgerys Creek as the site of a second Sydney airport later this year.
Sydney Airport will have the first right of refusal over the development.