Minister's Office Interferes In KiwiRail Decision Making

Questions must be asked why the Minister of Transport’s office has been blocking KiwiRail from releasing information to the public, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“New Zealand First tabled evidence in Parliament today which is a clear  example of interference by Minister Simon Bridges’ office in the workings of a state-owned enterprise.

“Under the Cabinet Manual Ministers should ‘not inappropriately influence officials, or involve themselves in matters that are not their responsibility’.

“In response to a question in Parliament today, Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett, answering on behalf of the Prime Minister, agreed this was the case.

“In other words, the operations of an SOE should remain at arm’s length from the Minister.

“The advice from Kiwi Rail’s legal team on June 1 was that it would struggle ‘to justify non-release’  of the information under the Official Information Act but the Minister’s Office claimed it was ‘extremely uncomfortable’ with the information being released.

“Instead of accepting the KiwiRail legal team’s position the Minister’s office pushed their view higher up to KiwiRail management.

“The Prime Minister today, through his deputy, said he had respect for the Cabinet Manual.

“He has described Alfred Ngaro’s comments around using strong-arm tactics on non-profit organisations as ‘naïve’, and Minister Steven Joyce has claimed ‘it’s not the way we operate’.

“But what does the Prime Minister have to say about Simon Bridges’ office deliberately trying to influence officials behind closed doors to not release information to the public?

“The involvement of the Minister’s office in KiwiRail decision making is yet another symptom of the National’s government’s arrogance after nine years,” says Mr Peters.