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Before I start I would like to point one thing out: Whoever wrote “Death Bells are Ringing” had some level of in-depth knowledge about AUSA. They even claimed to have know what happened within strict (AUSA speak for nothing leaves the room). Unless Craccum has found the hidden pot of gold in the Student Union building and managed to hire professional investigative journalists, this was the work of someone whose toes have been stepped on. I would strongly advise you to read “Death Bells Ringing” as well. This article is a response and would make far more sense if you know what I am responding to. It’s in last week’s Craccum, which is also online (bet you didn’t know that).
The spark that lit the fire was Bachid. Bachid is one of many businesses owned by AUSA and in the very near future it will probably be liquidated. The author gave two reasons as to why it’s failing, smoking ban and competition. Although that did help in Bachid losing out on market share one should expect an enterprise with no rent, or utility bill to be able to undercut its rivals who have to pay for those things. Plus there were a whole heap of corruption scandals that drove the organization into debt. BTW none of this happened this year so I would like you person anonymous to explain why you blame the current executive and sang praise for our General Manager Mr Tom O’Connor. Tom O’Connor has been involved with this enterprise for seven years, first as a trustee then as a board member and then as it director. I am a bit confused as to what mystery man/women means about Tom trying to right the ship, just a little.
So how has the current exec dealt with Bachid over the course of the year? AUSA approved a capital injection worth $220,000 into Bachid putting its solvency at risk. The only string that was attached was financial reporting. When that didn’t happen we got Grant Thornton (accountants) to investigate. Yes, they also do accounts for Uni as well hence would totally sabotage us because that’s totes how accounting firms operate. So what was the advice that Grant Thornton gave us? Bachid was insolvent and suffered from poor management. Although over the course of the year anyone with knowledge of simple arithmetic or an abacus could have figured that out. Also that thing about AUSA not providing a letter of comfort is bull shit. We did but we did delay it tell the lawyers (Chen Palmer) vetted the letter of comfort. Since Bachid was insolvent they were also in violation of their tenancy agreement with the Uni. This meant that they were liable to pay market from the time of insolvency. According to our accountants who have “been proved wrong again and again” this figure was $1.2Million.
We went to Uni with this information. So let me explain exactly how the Uni is trying to “replace AUSA”. They will under the proposal offered forgive that $1.2Million and provide about half a million dollars to AUSA per annum. The catch is that we would have to vacate our offices in Kate Edgar. We will also loose property owned by Bachid. This includes Quad Cafe, Cap’n Gown and Shadows. Legally only UoA or AUSA can own property upon which the university campus exists. Hence the creditors can’t claim any of Bachid’s on campus assets but UoA can. Since Bachid (a separate legal entity) owes AUSA about $600,000, we are also entitled to some of their assets. The Uni and AUSA agreed that Shadows would remain under student control (it makes money BTW) and the Quad Cafe would end up with UoA. The more minor parts of the deal were compelling the executive to read the AUSA constitution, having a list of club members that AUSA affiliated clubs enlist, and do club admin.
If the deal being offered was so spanking good why so hush hush. That criticism is unfair. We consulted clubs on the 13th of Sept and talked to faculty associations as well. Basically once we had a written agreement with the uni we went to students and asked them what they thought of it. We felt that such meetings were the most effective forums in allowing us to engage with students. Most people have no idea what’s happening at Student Forum or SGMs half the time. People feel intimidated because of the crowds, and the fact that often there are cameras recording them. It is also irresponsible for the AUSA exec to have a solution to the insolvency problem and leave it to chance. But most importantly, at least to me personally, taking risks with people’s jobs and livelihood may make for good politics but is irreprehensible moral behaviour. If this organization folds real people, hard working people, would lose their jobs.
Lastly why doesn’t AUSA just publish what the draft agreement is? Because we were advised not to. The agreement could potentially tie all of AUSA’s trusts together. This means that instead of being assumed as separate legal entities a court may interpret them as a conglomerate. Hence they would suddenly share risks and liabilities. Meaning failure of one trust could jeopardise all of our businesses. Minus Bachid all the other companies are performing well. We don’t want to risk their income to Bachid’s creditors. The other companies here are UBS, the Property trust and the Media trust. Without their income AUSA would be insolvent very, very soon.
So where to from here. We need a 2/3 majority this week at the SGM opposing the motion “THAT no new agreements shall be made between the association and the University of Auckland until such time as any proposed agreements have been made publically available to all association members and ratified by a simple majority at another general meeting by the association.”. Otherwise the motion will be called ‘contentions’. Then we will need a referendum. By the time that happens there will be no AUSA.