Vacuum Is Space Empty Of Matter

By David

We know the CEO of Auckland Swimming, Brian Palmer, is on his way. Excited by the prospect of new challenges he has decided it is time to move on. So what happens now? Are we going to see the Board of Auckland Swimming initiate a national search for a person of ability and talent? Will Brian Palmer be replaced by an equally independent and strong leader capable of planning what’s best for Auckland and skilled enough to guide the region in a positive direction? Is the current independent, strong role of Auckland Swimming secure? Is the Board of Auckland Swimming going to appoint a new CEO capable of protecting Auckland’s interests?

I think not. The days when Auckland stood up for what it believed and promoted strong policies appropriate for New Zealand largest city are about to end; “not with a bang but a whimper”. The departure of Brian Palmer will be seen by “Neville Chamberlin” Auckland Board members as their chance to change the nature and direction of the Region. Words like independence, strength, progress and courage will be replaced by cooperation, participation and sharing in a love fest of Woodstock proportions. Dynamic and sometimes uncomfortable leadership will be traded for the warm fuzzes. And Auckland swimming will be the poorer as a result.

Because the hyenas at Swimming New Zealand are circling. Miskimmin, Layton and Renford will see Brian Palmer’s departure as the opportunity of a lifetime. For them it is the opportunity of a lifetime. They won’t miss the chance seize control of New Zealand’s biggest region; to get their hands on Auckland’s assets; riches denied them while Palmer sat in the CEO chair. We are about to embark on a game at which the evil empire is expert.

My guess is that the conversations will probably go like this. “Teresa, it’s Peter here. So sorry to hear you have lost that chap, what was his name, Palmer? Just calling to see if Sport New Zealand can help. Certainly don’t want to get involved in your internal affairs. You know we’d never do that. But, while you are getting the mess you have sorted, we may have some interim resources to help you through.”

“Oh, Peter thanks for your call. That’s so kind. We are in a bit of a corner. What do you suggest?”

“Well Teresa I was thinking that perhaps you and Christian – you know Christian Renford the Swimming New Zealand CEO – could have lunch tomorrow. Get your ducks in a row. Oh, and don’t worry about the cost. In the spirit of our shared future, this ones on Sport New Zealand. What do you say?”

“Sound’s perfect Peter. I’ll be there. Where abouts and what time?”

“Sails Restaurant at 12.30, be okay?”

“I’ll see Christian then, Peter. Thank you so much. You are an Auckland life saver.”

And now let’s jump forward twenty four hours to a corner table in Sales Restaurant. It’s a sunny day. The window is open and a gentle breeze cools the warm summer sun.

Christian says, “Good to see you Teresa. We should have done this before. What would you like to eat? I can recommend the twice roasted half duck with herbed panisse, wilted greens, date & lemongrass relish and star anise jus. It’s delicious.”

“That sound lovely. Thank you,” says Teresa, beginning to feel more comfortable.

“It goes really well with the 1999 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. Wasn’t it Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin who said, “It is vital to indulge in one’s passions, so long as they are shared with friends and family.”

I agree Christian. Auckland has been outside the Swimming New Zealand family for far too long. Palmer was a difficult person. What do you think we can do about it?

Well Teresa, Peter and I discussed Auckland’s problems yesterday. I’d like to make a suggestion. What say we slot Rebecca Turner into the Auckland CEO position as a temporary fix? Peter will cover the cost of her salary. Then, as a priority, we will conduct a review, by a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors, to examine the scope and scale of managing the Auckland Region. We will then have a clear idea of what’s best for Auckland. What do you think?

“It’s a great idea Christian, but I’m not sure Auckland can afford a full review of its management,” says a concerned Teresa.

“Not a problem, Teresa. Sport New Zealand has got the cost covered.”

“Well then let’s do it,” sighs a relieved Teresa.

Three months later and the Auckland Review has been written. What does it say? With stunning clarity it recommends that the professionals at Swimming New Zealand should manage the affairs of New Zealand’s largest region. Having Swimming New Zealand and Auckland Swimming administration staff in the same town is an avoidable duplication; an unnecessary expense. It also recommends that Auckland’s assets with a book value of $600,000 be safeguarded in the coffers of Swimming New Zealand, the parent body. A Special General Meeting is called. The clubs are told that the Review’s recommendations must be accepted in their entirety; management and the assets or nothing at all. As Chris Moller infamously once said, “the reviews recommendations cannot be cherry picked.”

There is no option. The new Regional Constitution does not allow dissent. The vote of Auckland’s clubs is unanimous. In six months it’s all over. Swimming New Zealand control Auckland’s management and own its assets.

There it is then. The Swimwatch prediction of what is about to happen. But prophesying this outcome is not difficult. It’s the way Sport New Zealand does things. Just ask swimming, tennis, athletics, gymsports, surf lifesaving, rugby league, football and bowls. A first date excursion followed by the offer of a free review and Sport New Zealand wins. It’s a tried and true Miskimmin formula. It almost always succeeds in expanding the Sport New Zealand Realm. My guess is that it will work again. Auckland will be annexed to the evil empire. You see, this time Brian Palmer is not around to stand in the way, to defend Auckland and its assets.

At a Swimming New Zealand Special Meeting Chris Moller called on Brian Palmer to be sacked. Well Brian wasn’t sacked. He is moving on to bigger and better things. But now the people of Auckland are going to find out what it’s like without Brian Palmer around. And my guess is they are not going to like it one little bit.

When this or something close to this happens there will be no satisfaction in saying, “You read it first on Swimwatch.”