Wellington Scoop

Councillor Morrison’s call centre

So soon after his self-appointed stint as Peter Jackson’s spokesperson, John Morrison yesterday emerged as a spokesperson for a recently-arrived Wellington call centre.

His DomPost interview last week “confirming plans” for a Lord of the Rings museum in the CBD brought a quick denial from Peter Jackson that “nothing is decided or resolved.” It seemed Councillor Morrison was trying to take credit for someone else’s project – and one that had not yet taken shape.

Only nine days later, he’s issued a press release in which he announces that the recently-established CallActive call centre is campaigning to attract more business to Wellington. It’s unclear why Mr Morrison is announcing someone else’s marketing plans – but no doubt it’s part of his campaign to be seen as a business-friendly candidate for the mayoralty. Mr Morrison has also said that he helped attract the call centre to Wellington. But a Wellington.Scoop reader has questioned the timeline in this claim.

Monday’s Morrison announcement says he “discovered” Melbourne-based CallActive when setting the St Kilda AFL Anzac Day club game earlier this year. There was a similar message from the head of the company when the Wellington office was opened in July as “a viable alternative to the Philippines” with a cheaper cost structure than Australia. But reader Rufus Sixsmith points out that CallActive updated its website on January 7 to show Wellington was its New Zealand location. He comments: “One would assume that the business case for establishing a new operation in Wellington was completed and accepted before the web-site was updated and before Mr Morrison came on the scene.”

John Morrison has also been in the news this week because a couple of people have complained about a speech that he gave at the opening of an art show. WCC Watch says he “put his foot in it” with a poor choice of a joke. It quotes an anonymous attendee:

Mr Morrison, in his opening speech, thought it fitting to crack a joke about a semi-nude model by saying he had been chatting to her and she said she would “come see him later, in the shower”. The comment was not well received, with mostly scattered mutters.

A second criticism of the speech has been made by Houghton Bay resident William Hunt, who was also at the opening. He says

It was a packed house and there was also a fashion show with young women modelling dresses, standing on podiums amongst the crowd. John Morrison was invited to open the exhibition; at some stage in his speech he congratulated the models and said: “i will be meeting with one of them, in the showers, later on after the show”. My daughter was with me and she was very upset, and she was not the only one; this kind of “humour” is unacceptable from anyone and especially from a candidate for the mayoralty of the capital city.

A reminder that politicians need to guard their credibility. And if they’re aiming to win popularity with voters, they need to choose their words carefully, whether trying to take credit for someone else’s project, or just trying to make people laugh.


  1. JC, 11. September 2013, 12:58

    Oh no, a Wellington.Scoop reader questioned his claim? Based on assumptions, you say? Heavens, alert the insurers!

  2. John Clarke, 11. September 2013, 14:12

    Morrison does seem remarkably gaffe-prone. His PR minders need to keep him on a tighter leash.

  3. Ellie, 11. September 2013, 14:14

    Mystery Morrison

    Because you never knew what he was going to do

    No change there!

  4. Damien, 11. September 2013, 16:02

    I assume there must be a screen shot and timestamp of the CallActive webpage update? Cos I can’t see any reference of when it was updated…..unless of course, we’re just taking Rufus’ word on this?

  5. Rufus Sixsmith, 12. September 2013, 7:36

    I sent Scoop the HTML as proof. Excerpt:

    Posted on Jan 7, 2013

    Wellington – New Zealand
    Our New Zealand operation is located in the heart of the beautiful city of Wellington. With over 300 seats and capacity for more, our Zealand operations are an extension of our Melbourne operations offering a fully integrated solution that services both Australian and New Zealand Customers.

  6. JC, 12. September 2013, 13:35

    Thanks Rufus. Do you also know the first time which any discussion took place between Morrison and CallActive?

  7. Rufus Sixsmith, 12. September 2013, 14:36

    @JC. In this article http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/8728116/Wellington-grabs-jobs-off-Aussies

    “The idea of opening a CallActive office in Wellington came about after the city hosted the Australian Football League match between St Kilda and the Sydney Swans at Westpac Stadium on Anzac Day, Mr Morrison said.”

    So Mr Morrison claims discussions around the call centre occurred on or after 25/4/2013.

  8. JC, 12. September 2013, 22:09

    “We then had to go through an in-depth analysis of the cost structures and labour, but what we discovered was that Wellington is quite an attractive proposition,” Mr Morrison said. CallActive had already started setting up shop here, having signed up a handful of New Zealand clients, and the firm expects to be fully operational in five months.

    “John’s done an incredible job to show off Wellington and give us the peace of mind to do business out of here,” he said.

  9. lindsay, 12. September 2013, 22:48

    JC: what are you trying to tell us?

  10. JC, 13. September 2013, 8:23

    Sorry, I thought that was self-evident. (1) The article relied on by Rufus already seems to acknowledge that CallActive had a small presence here before Mr Morrison’s involvement. (2) If Morrison had no involvement in bringing the added business to Wellington, why would their CEO thank him for his involvement?

    I have no problem with candidates being subject to examination, but this ‘issue’ is all based on hearsay and assumptions, which seems to me to be a waste of time.

  11. Gosman, 20. September 2013, 12:06

    I met one of the managers of Callactive while on holiday in Thailand and he spoke glowingly of John Morrison and his role in getting them over to Wellington. They even went to his campaign launch so there is definately a clise relationship between them.