Elder to front at Select Committee

Former Solid Energy boss Don Elder (TV3)

In a statement issued through his lawyer this evening, former Solid Energy CEO Don Elder has agreed to appear before the Commerce Select Committee on Thursday.

Earlier, National MPs on the committee dropped their opposition to Labour's call for Mr Elder to appear, and be questioned on the state-owned company's strategy and descent into debt.

Committee Chairman Jonathan Young wrote to the ex-CEO on Saturday.

"It's not a subpoena. It's an invitation to Dr Elder. I'm sure he has some things to say and I would expect that if he is able to he'd come," Radio New Zealand reported Mr Young as saying.

Mr Elder says it was always his intention to answer the committee's questions.

RAW DATA: Don Elder statement

Statement from Don Elder, former Chief Executive of Solid Energy

It is my intention to appear before Parliament’s Commerce Select Committee on Thursday 14 March 2013, pending approval from my employer.

I have always been willing to answer any questions Members of the Committee may have about Solid Energy and my time as its Chief Executive. I made myself available to assist the Solid Energy team at last week’s sitting of the Committee, but was advised that I was not required to be present. I have never refused to cooperate.

I will endeavour to help the Committee in any way I can, subject to the lifting of obligations imposed on me by Solid Energy.

I will be making no further public statements until the Committee hearing.

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Should have been there at the start. Sad neglect of corporate governance and accountability by all involved in the decision not to have him there.

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The Solid Energy strategy was always difficult to grasp. To move, say, 20 million tonnes of export coal a year and achieve worthwhile volume you would have needed electrified rail from Buller and Wesport to Christchurch and also have built the line to Nelson abandoned after the 1929-31 earthquakes because the geologists, Sutch and Coates, concluded NZ was too shaky to move export coal on a line to Nelson.
The difficulty and expense of the diesel trains through Arthur's Pass and through Christchurch level crossings seemed problematic and coal trucks worse. Southland is at least flat so lignite could easily be transported and its development was not a stupid idea.

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