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"Open the books", say frustrated Aucklanders
Four prominent Aucklanders have called on the government to appoint a commissioner to take over operations of Auckland Transport (AT) and to hold a full public inquiry into its conduct (see attached document).

Auckland Transport, a billion dollar organisation that controls a vast network of transport infrastructure sprawling far beyond Auckland city, has been accused of dishonesty, arrogance and wastage.

The four-person OpenTheBooks.co.nz (OTB) group reflects a wide range of political and social beliefs, but is "united by our outrage at the manner Auckland Transport conducts its affairs."

The OTB group chairman, road safety campaigner Clive Matthew Wilson, says:

"Auckland Transport operates like an independent state that is indifferent to the wishes of most Aucklanders."

A group statement added:

"The facts suggest that AT handles its portfolio wastefully, arrogantly and incompetently. The facts further suggest that AT is effectively incapable of useful consultation with affected parties. AT appears instead to routinely ignore those who object to its plans, and further ignores the effects of these plans on both local citizens and businesses."

"For this reason, the OTB group believes AT's powers should be suspended and an independent commissioner appointed to supervise current AT projects. The remainder of AT's future projects should be put on hold until after a full public inquiry."

The OTB group adds:

"A recent inquiry into the NZTA revealed a culture of wide, systemic management failures.We believe an Inquiry will disclose similar, or worse, within Auckland Transport."

Matthew-Wilson dismissed Mayor Goff's recent critical comments on AT as: 'election year spin.'

"While our group shares the mayor's criticism of Auckland Transport, the fact remains that Goff helped set up the current mess."

Matthew Wilson, adds:

"Mayor Goff was instrumental in removing councillors Mike Lee and Christine Fletcher from the board of Auckland Transport. Lee and Fletcher were replaced by board members who appear to passively accept the current direction of AT. So, Mayor Goff's election year faux toughness is unlikely to satisfy Auckland voters. Only a full public inquiry will do that."

Specific issues:

The OTB group wants an independent inquiry into:

1) Allegations of inefficiency, waste and possible corruption in the granting of AT contracts (page 5 in our position paper here).

2) Allegations that the Britomart-Māngere airport light rail project is primarily a property development scheme. In addition, OTB notes that the proposed tramway does not appear to offer a significant advantage over having several buses travelling the same route, at a fraction of the cost."

3) Allegations that the Australian consultancy MRCagney uses a lobby group and contacts associated with the Green Party to drive policies within both Auckland Transport and central Government. MRCagney then appears to benefit from the policies it promotes.

4) Allegations that AT is unconcerned about the effects of its policies on local residents and businesses. (page 11 in our position paper here).

5) Allegations that AT habitually ignores the consultation process. (page 27 in our position paper here).

6) Allegations that AT consistently hides the gross inefficiency of Auckland's public transport system. (page 17 in our position paper here).

7) Allegations that AT's buses are dangerous and often unnecessary. (page 19 in our position paper here).

8) Allegations that AT plans to allow footpaths to become roads for bicycles and e-bicycles as well as e-scooters. This strategy has been described as: "a war on pedestrians".

9) Allegations that AT plans to widely lower speed limits lack scientific credibility.
Australian consultancy secretly influences government policy
The Australian consultancy MRCagney uses a lobby group and contacts associated with the Green Party to further its own interests, says an Auckland group calling for an inquiry into Auckland Transport. (page 7 in our position paper here)

Auckland Transport, a billion dollar organisation that controls a vast network of transport infrastructure sprawling far beyond Auckland city, has been accused of dishonesty, arrogance and wastage.

The four-person OpenTheBooks.co.nz (OTB) claims that a web of links join MRCagney, the Green Party, the lobby group Greater Auckland, the New Zealand Transport Agency, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport.

OTB spokesperson, road safety campaigner Clive Matthew Wilson, says:

"Wherever you look, MRCagney appears to be quietly pulling strings in the background. There is increasing concern that an unelected Australian company can influence key New Zealand government decisions at the highest level."

MRCagney's principal economist is Peter Nunns, partner of associate transport minister Julie Anne Genter.

Genter is also a former employee of MRCagney. Further, Genter formerly held shares in MRCagney.

There are also strong links between MRCagney and the Greater Auckland lobby group (GA), together with strong links to current senior staff within both local and central government.

For example, GA founding member Joshua Arbury is currently a lead public transport and network design advisor at NZ Transport Agency. He was formerly a senior transport adviser for Auckland Council.[1]

The current associate transport minister, Julie Anne Genter, was also a founding member of GA.

Peter Nunns is also a contributor to GA, while also holding a position as Principal Economist at MRCagney. Nunns was formerly a senior research economist with Auckland Council.

Luke Christensen, a former policy director for Generation Zero, is another contributor to GA, while also employed by MRCagney as a public transport planner.

Nicholas Reid is another contributor to GA, while also employed as a transportation planner and senior consultant at MRCagney. Please note, however, that Nicholas Reid from MRCagney is not the same person as Nick Reid, who works for Auckland City Council.

Kent Lundberg, who is both GA's website domain registrar and a contributor, is also employed by MRCagney.

GA has been tirelessly lobbying for the conversion of Auckland to a cycle-friendly city. GA has also been tirelessly lobbying for the Britomart-Māngere airport light rail project and frequently dismisses the alternative option.

There has been deep concern expressed at the sudden increase in contracts issued to MRCagney since the current government took power. A number of these contracts relate to cycling and the Britomart-Māngere airport light rail project.

MRCagney is not the major consultant on the Britomart-Māngere airport light rail project. However, MRCagney previously enjoyed six different contracts relating to this project.

Many of the contracts awarded to MRCagney relate to Auckland Transport's activities, even if the actual contract was awarded by NZTA. Further, many of the same contracts are listed as both NZTA's and AT's contracts.

NZTA Internet Contract Award Dataload.xlsx - Auckland Transport

In a group statement, the OTB says:

"OTB is profoundly uneasy with the arrangement whereby a government minister and her partner are close associates of a lobby group (Greater Auckland), that strongly advocates for major changes to the city's infrastructure (eg, cycle lanes), after which the same government minister's partner's company (MRCagney), receives significant contracts related to these changes."

"At the very least, the close relationships within these groups and individuals must raise doubts as to whether due process has been followed in the granting of these contracts"

"Also, inevitably, the public perception of possible conflicts of interest must undermine confidence in both central and local government."

"If these political and commercial relationships between the associate minister, her partner, her partner's company, Greater Auckland and the various bodies that issued contracts, are as innocent as has been claimed, they can withstand a full independent inquiry."

"Anything less than a full independent inquiry will inevitably encourage unanswered suspicions to fester in the public mind."
Prominent Aucklanders call for a government inquiry into Auckland Transport
A group of prominent Aucklanders has called on the government to appoint a commissioner to take over operations of Auckland Transport (AT) and to hold a full public inquiry into its conduct.

Auckland Transport, whose billion dollar organisation controls a vast network of transport infrastructure that sprawls far beyond Auckland city, has been accused of dishonesty, arrogance and wastage.

The OTB group chairman, road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, says:

"Auckland Transport operates like an independent state that is indifferent to the wishes of most Aucklanders."

A group statement added:

"The facts suggest that AT has handled its portfolio wastefully, arrogantly and incompetently. The facts further suggest that AT is effectively incapable of useful consultation with affected parties. AT appears instead to have routinely ignored those who objected to its plans, and further ignored their effects on both local citizens and businesses."

"For this reason, the OTB group believes AT's powers should be suspended and an independent commissioner appointed to supervise current AT projects. The remainder of AT's future projects should be put on hold until after a full public inquiry."
Read our comprehensive report on everything that's wrong with Auckland Transport
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