Phil Kitchin has done another fine investigation – this time into MaritimeNZ. The quick summary is the CEO instructed investigators for a boating fatality to only investigate the crash and sinking, and not the response by rescue organisations – as one of them was managed by MaritimeNZ.
One investigator rightfully said that the response is critical as that is the difference between someone just having a bath and drowning at sea.
The Dom Post editorial says:
The emails obtained by The Dominion Post show that when controversy about the rescue emerged, Maritime NZ director Catherine Taylor and senior manager Peter Williams decided the search and rescue operation would not form part of the investigation. In one email, investigator Captain Ian Webb was instructed to confine his inquiries “to the sinking”.
Maritime NZ sources have told The Dominion Post that Mr Webb, who was sacked before his report was completed, successfully challenged that instruction. In a reply, also obtained by The Dominion Post, he said he was aware of the “political sensitivities” of the case, but was conscious of what could occur when the integrity of an investigation was made subordinate to other concerns.
“It is not reasonable to confine this or any investigation to the point at which the vessel foundered,” he said. “It is the conditions and events following the sinking which decide whether the boat’s occupants merely suffer from an unscheduled bath or die.”
According to Ms Taylor, it is “standard practice” for Maritime NZ not to investigate any other parts of its organisation so there can be no allegations of a conflict of interest.
However, it is Maritime NZ’s failure to investigate itself that raises questions of a conflict of interest in this case. What is the point of an investigation that ignores salient information?
Mr Hampton’s parents are seeking an inquiry into the way Maritime NZ investigated their son’s death. Their request should be granted, but the inquiry should be widened to address other issues raised by the case.
I think and hope the Government will do an inquiry into this. Public organisations need public confidence.Tags: Dominion Post, Maritime NZ, Phil Kitchin