Politics

Martin Jenkins to provide “external support” in NZTA inquiry

Consulting firm Martin Jenkins has been enlisted to provide “external support” for the Ministry of Transport’s review into the performance of NZTA’s regulatory function. 

The review got off to a troubled start after it was raised that the Ministry of Transport was the wrong organisation to investigate NZTA, as the Ministry is itself the statutory monitor of the agency and an inquiry will likely find that it too is at fault.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said that he was happy with the choice of the Transport Ministry, but said the question of whether the Ministry had neglected its role was fair. 

The review’s terms of reference were also published on Thursday, along with news of Martin Jenkins’ appointment. The terms of reference were agreed with the Twyford. 

The review will examine NZTA’s neglect of its regulatory function, which it was found to have abandoned after it was revealed the Agency’s approach which highlighted education rather than enforcement had lead to many businesses in the transport sector flouting regulations, including businesses charged with issuing WoFs. 

Since the scandal was uncovered in October, NZTA has identified 20,000 WoFs issued by poor certifiers that now need to be rechecked. 

The scandal claimed NZTA Chief Executive Fergus Gammie, who resigned last week. 

The terms of reference for the inquiry say it will look at governance, leadership capability and the balance of education, engagement and enforcement. 

Alongside his work on the main review Jenkins will look at the Ministry of Transport’s role as statutory monitor of NZTA. 

Transport Chief Executive Peter Mersi said the approach was consistent with similar reviews of functions within agencies in the public service.

The Ministry has so far defended its role in the scandal. It told Parliament’s Transport select committee that its role as monitor meant it did not look at “individual cases” of things going wrong at the Agency, which was why the scandal was not picked up sooner.

But this could mean a similar scandal could also pass under the radar. 

Martin Jenkins has a history conducting public sector reviews, including a recent review into Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas’ decision to cancel a speech by Don Brash. 

The review is scheduled to be completed in March. 

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