NZ: Minister backs MNZ’s safety stance

New Zealand Transport Minister Steven Joyce is backing Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) director Catherine Taylor over a to-date NZ$800,000 (US$650,000) campaign to prevent Survey Nelson from providing "Safe Ship Management" services to the commercial shipping industry.

Expressing confidence in the director and her organisation, the minister said it was, "regrettable when large sums of money have to be spent on complicated legal cases like this", but added that the issues go "to the heart" of Ms Taylor's responsibilities for marine safety.

MNZ withdrew operational approval to Survey Nelson in November 2009 due to ongoing safety concerns over a four-year period. However, having initially been endorsed by the High Court, this decision was subsequently overturned by the Court of Appeal and now MNZ is taking the matter to the Supreme Court.

Ms Taylor says it is important to note that all litigation undertaken by Survey Nelson has been focused solely on the "judicial review" process followed and not the merits of MNZ's decision.

"Therefore, apart from the decision released by the High Court's Justice Simon France [which found the director's … actions fair and reasonable] no court has ruled on the safety issues raised … ," said Ms Taylor.

Iain MacIntyre

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