KiwiRail requests injunction lift and releases plan
24 August 2012
Reports that we have something to hide because we sought an injunction to prevent media reporting on the leaked Infrastructure and Engineering Business Plan are extremely frustrating, says KiwiRail Chief Executive Jim Quinn.
The injunction was sought because the plan outlines detailed and technical aspects of the rail network repairs and renewals for internal use, for our people who know the business to do their jobs.
Successful planning of this sort by our staff relies on their ability to be free and frank in their identification of priorities, risk and mitigation steps. It is extremely important that staff are free to report blatantly on the ‘lay of the land’ in these kinds of internal documents.
After all, the very purpose of having things like risks outlined so openly in the plan means they are highlighted to us so we can put mitigation plans in place to ensure they are minimised. This is good basic business practice.
I was determined to pursue an injunction to show to my staff that I felt strongly that the risk of media reporting on the document once it was leaked put the ability for staff to report in a free and frank manner in jeopardy.
Not only that, having the contents of the plan reported on without detailed knowledge of our operations could be misleading. This has already occurred with misleading reports of asset decline and safety risks.
This is simply not the case and illustrates why a document like this was not meant for public consumption. While I understand that the public have an interest in our operations as a state owned enterprise the detailed nature of the planning document can easily be taken out of context by anyone without a detailed understanding of our business.
Just like any other business, KiwiRail has to make calls around priorities when managing our assets and use our money prudently. We have a 30 year task ahead and need to balance our priorities according to the needs of safety followed by our market needs.
And, as we have previously and repeatedly said, over the short-term we are spending less than we had originally planned to spend, but we are still investing far more in rail than we have in decades. Over recent years we have invested to improve the network and suggestions that it will return to the state it was in 10 years ago have no basis at all. Furthermore over the next three years, we will still invest $1 billion in the business, with a significant amount going directly on the network.
The planning document was leaked through a breach of confidence, this is a very serious matter that I am extremely concerned by and will be pursuing.
The nature of the document being leaked in this fashion has given it a greater profile that it should have. As such I believe that it is now in our interest to release it and provide the public with the necessary context to its content.
I will be outlining this at a press conference this afternoon.
Notes to reporters:
Some public comments around the Business Plan have assumed that where a confidential document has been leaked, confidentiality in that document comes to an end. That is not the case. The law protects the confidentiality of documents which have come into the possession of persons in such unauthorised circumstances.
Further, the fact that KiwiRail is an State Owned Enterprise does not mean that all confidential internal business documents and communications can be published by the media, purportedly under the public interest. There are well known and carefully calibrated processes for requesting documents from SOEs in the Official Information Act. That Act balances the public interest and the need for businesses to protect confidential and commercial information, so that important internal communications within the business are not inhibited.
Media Contact: Candice Johanson, Senior Communications Advisor, 021 804 906.