Are Senior Staff of NZTA writing Letters to Editors and not declaring conflicts, or providing transparency, or worse – passing themselves off as the public to deceive? Surely there are rules about this? A very knowledgeable Murray Carpenter wrote this letter to the Indepentent Herald this week:
Is he the same Murray Carpenter, senior Engineer at NZTA, designing the exact same road his letter to the editor promotes? Here’s a link to Murrary Carpenter of NZTA, the author of a section of the scoping report for the exact road he’s promoting (flick to page 189). Here’s part of it below:
If they’re the same person, where does he declare his credentials and conflict of interest for transparency?
Would it therefore be appropriate that he should be passing judgement on Hon. Peter Dunne and people opposing plans of NZTA, given his job for NZTA (assuming it’s the same Murray Carpenter)?
Worse still, if this is the same Murray Carpenter, there appears to be an attempt to deliberately mislead readers and deliberately conceal his conflict of interest further by trying to pass himself off as a member of the public, saying: “After attending the Open Day held last year at Tawa and studying the plans and information, I support the proposed new link …….The advantages are…”. That public open day was created by his employer, and the report he ‘studied’ is the same one he helped write (if it’s the same person).
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Here’s another letter to the Editor by Murray Carpenter attacking one of the fundamental problems of NZTA building new highways in Wellington – traffic volumes being static for a decade. Of course a roading engineer would argue this wouldn’t they?
Perhaps the Minister of Transport could look into this serious matter. It’s really not cricket as thay say, but then anyone who has opposed NZTA’s plans will know that playing with a straight bat isn’t their strongest point.
UPDATE 16 April 2015: A complaint was laid with the State Services Commission, and their response was:
Thank you for your 26 March letter in relation to a possible undeclared conflict of interest by a Mr Murray Carpenter and his work with NZTA. We are satisfied that, while a Mr Carpenter worked for a company contracted to provide advice to NZTA several years ago, if this is the same Mr Carpenter, we understand that he has been retired for the last two years, and would be acting in the capacity of a private individual.
This might be legally correct, but we’re concerned that this Murray Carpenter did not declare his professional connection with the proposal when he used a public forum to criticise people opposed to it – that’s not cricket. The fact that he may have been retired at the time does not escape the fact that he was a part author of the report he tries to appear as an independent commenter of. We think he should have declared his interest, and our concerns still stand.