Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party
Labour is demanding the Government indemnify the Auckland ratepayer against a possible $20 million legal action by public transport smartcard operator Snapper, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford.
“Documents released under the Official Information Act show former Transport Minister Steven Joyce pressured officials to allow Snapper to roll out its card on Auckland buses in spite of official advice stating it posed a risk to Auckland’s $100 million integrated ticketing project.
“With legal action against Auckland Transport looming, Auckland ratepayers will be questioning why official advice was ignored,” Phil Twyford said.
Snapper was kicked out of the integrated ticketing project by Auckland Transport in August after it failed to make its card compatible with the overall ticketing scheme, causing repeatedly delays and cost over-runs. Both Snapper and NZ Bus are owned by infrastructure investor Infratil.
“The Government has repeatedly denied any ministerial role in the decision to allow Snapper to use its smartcard on the Auckland buses. Transport Minister, Gerry Brownlee, told Parliament on June 27 that “Ministers have had no involvement in the decision to include Snapper in the integrated system.”
“But correspondence from Snapper Services chief executive Miki Szikszai in March 2010, to then-Transport Minister Steven Joyce, has the Snapper CEO thanking Joyce for meeting with him and Infratil founder the late Lloyd Morrison. It says;
“I understand that you have met with Geoff Dangerfield (NZTA chief executive) and Brian Roche (NZTA chair) following our meeting and that your expectations are that, given Snapper’s assurances, NZBus should be free to proceed on its current plan to implement Snapper equipment.”
“Hundreds of pages released under the OIA contained no correction or clarification of this statement by the Minister’s office.
“This is just another backroom deal from the Minister with a finger in every pie. Mr Joyce was clearly lobbied by Infratil then putting the hard word on NZTA to change their policy allowing Snapper into the integrated ticketing system.
“The Minister runs around town doing deals like Gordon Gecko. And the result is the Auckland ratepayers are going to have to pick up the bill for up to $20 million.
“This could cost every Auckland ratepayers $40 each. There is no way they should have to carry the can for this,” Phil Twyford said.