Praise, and silence, for Feeley


The resignation of Queenstown council boss Adam Feeley has been met with a mixture of strong praise and conspicuous silence.

Councillors are mostly positive about the controversial chief executive’s legacy.

Feeley yesterday morning in an emailed statement to council staff.

He thanked them for bringing about significant change, especially in cutting costs, strengthening finances and improving customer service.

But his job’s “24-7 demands” had come at the expense of his personal life and, after three years, he wants to move into consulting and directorship roles.

The statement says: “I came to Queenstown Lakes to enjoy the lifestyle it offers, but unfortunately this has not eventuated.

“I am at a point in my life where I want greater flexibility to get out running in the hills and spend time with my family.”

Feeley will leave in late February.

Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden says the council is in better financial shape than when Feeley took over.

He reshaped the council by bringing together three separate organisations and improving the delivery of core infrastructure and services, she says.

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ann Lockhart did not respond to a request for comment, nor did long-time verbal sparring partner and Remarkables Park developer Alastair Porter.

Councillors were largely positive about Feeley’s record.

Ella Lawton says the council is more efficient, better organised and had improved its long-term planning. Although the controversy surrounding a special housing application by Feeley’s family trust was “unfortunate”, she says he’s done a great job of helping the council move forward.

Simon Stamers-Smith says Feeley took a council with 19th-century systems into the 21st century.

Mel Gazzard says it’s hard to tell whether recent high turnover of senior staff was a factor in the resignation - but Feeley leaves the council in much better shape.

Merv Aoake says the chief executive’s role is high pressure, and he accepted Feeley’s reasons for quitting.

Cath Gilmour didn’t want to comment.

Controversy has been a hallmark of Mr Feeley’s career in recent years. The shake-up of the council in 2013 saw almost 30 per cent of full-time equivalent jobs being stripped out to improve efficiency. This year there have been a string of senior staff resignations.

In May, the Auditor-General inquired into council handling of a conflict of interest over Feeley’s family trust’s proposed Arrowtown subdivision under special housing rules.

He and the council were cleared, but the Auditor-General said the chief executive and Van Uden “could have done some things better”.

During his time as the head of the Serious Fraud Office, Feeley was reprimanded by then police minister Judith Collins for celebrating the charging of Bridgecorp director Rob Petricevic by opening Bridgecorp-labelled Champagne.

He was also reprimanded by the State Services Commission for handing out copies of the late Allan Hubbard’s biography at a staff Christmas party.

Collins was forced to resign as justice minister last year following revelations blogger Cameron Slater had written four years earlier she had been “gunning for Feeley” while police minister.

Otago Daily Times