Brian Roche resigns from Wellington Gateway board in NZTA return
By Paul McBeth
June 13 (BusinessDesk) - Brian Roche has resigned from the board of Wellington Gateway Partnership to take up the chair of the New Zealand Transport Agency, clearing a potential conflict of interest with the Crown entity facing a claim by the Transmission Gully contractor.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford yesterday announced Roche's return to the NZTA board, replacing Michael Stiassny, whose brief tenure imposed a major shake-up of the agency over systemic failures in regulatory oversight that ultimately led to the departures of chief executive Fergus Gammie and three directors.
"There is currently a review of the Transport Agency’s regulatory functions underway, which the government expects to receive shortly," Twyford said in a statement. "A key focus for Sir Brian will be implementing the direction signalled from that review, and I am confident in Sir Brian’s ability to make that happen."
Roche was described as a 'go to person' when receiving a knighthood for services to the state and business in 2016, overseeing the establishment of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority in 2004, and was later the inaugural chair of NZTA when Land Transport New Zealand and Transit New Zealand were merged in 2008.
Earlier this week, Roche was brought in to lead the establishment of the new Housing and Urban Development Authority and help shift the KiwiBuild delivery functions and Housing New Zealand and the former Hobsonville Land Co into the new entity.
Roche will remain chair of the City Rail Link joint venture between central government and Auckland Council - which receives direct government funding - although he has resigned from the board of Wellington Gateway Partnership, which has the contract to build and maintain the 27km Transmission Gully highway north of Wellington.
In February, WGP lodged a claim against NZTA which the Crown agency deemed material enough to note as a contingent liability in its second-quarter performance report. Neither WGP or NZTA are commenting on the dispute, although the public-private partnership contract defines a claim as any claim, action, demand or suit for a payment of money, an extension of time, or relief from obligations.
WGP chief executive Sergio Merjia said Roche tendered his resignation last week, and that no replacement has been found yet. WGP's shareholders are Cimic Group’s PPP unit Pacific Partnerships, Accident Compensation Corp’s investment arm, and global investment manager InfraRed Capital Partners.