Inquiry into the West Coast Development Trust.

I began this inquiry after I was sent information containing a number of specific allegations about individual files and transactions at the West Coast Development Trust. After investigating the detail of those allegations, I have concluded that many of the concerns were unfounded and that others were based on minor administrative or procedural errors, or occasional errors of judgement.

Despite that conclusion, this is a sobering report. In the course of my inquiry, it rapidly became apparent that the main problem is that the Trust is dysfunctional at a governance level. The trustees do not work together effectively. There is an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust, which manifests in hostility and accusations.

The behaviour at the Trust during the past 18 months is not appropriate for a public entity, or for trustees. Much of it continues today.

I have therefore concluded that I am unable to provide Parliament with 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 region until this situation changes.

The trustees urgently need to find a way to work together so they can take effective collective responsibility for the governance of the Trust. If individual trustees cannot make that change, and remain unable to fulfil their responsibilities, then they should consider stepping down. There is no other mechanism in the Trust deed for achieving change. The solution therefore rests with the individuals sitting around the Trust's board table.

Kevin Brady's signature.

K B Brady
Controller and Auditor-General

30 July 2008