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.
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."