Third Main Business Case

Harriet Gale made this Official Information request to New Zealand Transport Agency

The request was refused by New Zealand Transport Agency.

From: Harriet Gale

Dear New Zealand Transport Agency,

Hope your day is going well.

1. Has the NZTA in partnership with other agencies conducted a Business Case for the Third Main in Auckland?
2. If so, could the relevant Business Case please be released to me in full, or in part if some provisions require protection for the approved reasons in the act?

Yours faithfully,

Harriet Gale

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From: Info@nzta.govt.nz
New Zealand Transport Agency

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From: Official Correspondence
New Zealand Transport Agency

Dear Harriet,

This email acknowledges your below request made under the Official Information Act 1982 for information.

Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate section of the Transport Agency to respond to. They will contact you if they require clarification of your request, more time to respond, or if your request has been transferred to another organisation to respond to. Unless more time is required, the Transport Agency will send a response to you within 20 working days of receiving your request.

Please note the summer holiday for Official Information Act requests runs 24 December to 15 January 2015 and means these days are not counted as working days. You can find out more about OIA timeframes during the Christmas period at: http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/.

If you would like to discuss your request with the Transport Agency, please contact us by email at [email address].

Regards

_________ _____________________________________________
Official Correspondence Unit
Office of the Chief Executive
National Office / Victoria Arcade, 50 Victoria Street,
Private Bag 6995, Wellington 6141, New Zealand

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From: Harriet Gale

Dear Official Correspondence,

Understand it has been the holiday period, just checking up on this as FYI sent a reminder?

Yours sincerely,

Harriet Gale

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From: Official Correspondence
New Zealand Transport Agency


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Dear Harriet

 

Please see the attached letter from David Silvester, Acting Group Manager
Planning & Investment, in response to your Official Information request of
28 November 2016.

 

Regards

 

Official Correspondence Unit

Office of the Chief Executive

National Office / Victoria Arcade, 50 Victoria Street,
Private Bag 6995, Wellington 6141, New Zealand 

_________  _____________________________________________   

 

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Find the latest transport news, information, and advice on our website:

[5]www.nzta.govt.nz

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5. http://www.nzta.govt.nz/

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From: Harriet Gale

Thanks David,

Yours sincerely,

Harriet Gale

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Luke left an annotation ()

I squared the NZ transport Agency’s response with the OIA guidelines on page 12 of the Ombudsman’s website at http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/syste....

Taking each of the four elements in turn that need to be met on pages 12-14:

(i) If there is advice in the business case (e.g. recommendations as to which option to choose and why) and is about to be tendered, then it may be appropriate to withhold this advisory information to ensure the Board can make an full and considered assessment.

If a “direct connection can be established between the internal discussion papers and the advice to be tendered to Ministers, and the remaining elements of the section are made out” is relevant here. The business case will be integral to any advice, as it outlines the factual basis and rationale for decisions.

The element is probably satisfied.

(ii) It must be “necessary” to withhold the information to ensure effective deliberations. If the releasing of the advisory information would inhibit effective consultation, then this element would be satisfied.

(iii) The purpose here is to allow a State-owned enterprise Board to make a decision about a transport route. The convention would likely apply in this situation. The element is probably satisfied.

(iv) It is important to question whether releasing the entire business case would harm the interests that 9(2)(f)(iv) seeks to protect. In your request, you asked if the business case woulc be released in part if some of it needed to be withheld. The guidelines state that “Advice that is purely factual in nature or comprises bare options, as opposed to opinions offered or recommendations made as to future action, can often be disclosed without pre-empting the ability of Ministers or Cabinet to deliberate on the advice received and decide how to proceed. In other words, not all advice may need to be withheld, even though it is still under consideration.” Without having seen the full-text of the business case, but knowing that business cases have a lot of background information that is not advisory in nature, I am likely to believe that there is likely to be information in the document that could, and should, be released to you. As such, this fourth element is not satisfied.

In terms of whether there are any considerations, in the public interest, that outweigh the need to withhold the document, you would consider the following factors:

1. whether the information would assist you and others to participate in the decision-making of the ‘third main’. Would the information be illuminate or inform you for any process in which you were deciding whether to support this infrastructure?

2. Whether the information assisted you to hold the Board, the Transport Agency, or other public officials to account. At this stage, no one has yet made a decision so this consideration may not be relevant.

Remember, the public interest must outweigh the need to withhold the advice/advisory sections of the business case; if they are unlikely to do so, your best option to ask for the business case to be released with redactions to the information that would harm the convention to consider advice. So for example, recommendations and advice would be withheld, but facts and options would not be. If you agree with this, one option is to respond to the NZ Transport Agency in a new request stating which information you believe can be released (based on my assessment).

You could also, concurrently, lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman, and revoke that complaint if the NZ Transport Agency release a satisfactory amount of information to you.

Once the KiwiRail Board has made its decision, then the full business case (including the advisory sections or recommendations) should be released to you. You may need to re-request it at the appropriate time.

I am not convinced that the timing of the released of the business case is contingent on the action plan for ATAP. The information is only being withheld to allow a decision on the third main and if the business case is utilised to make a decision before the implementation of the action plan, then I see no reason to continue withholding the information.

It would have been helpful for the NZ Transport Agency to advice you of when the business case was going to be provided to the Board at their next board meeting. This indicative timing would be helpful in knowing how long you would have to wait before all the information could be released.

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