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Independent investigation process: Terms of reference
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Independent investigation process: Terms of reference

6 November 2012

Terms of Reference


Introduction

The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (the “Chief Executive”) has received a copy of the report of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy, dated 29 October 2012 (the “Royal Commission Report”). That report is critical of the performance of the former Department of Labour and of the former Ministry of Economic Development for failure to take appropriate steps when issuing Pike’s mining permit and in failing to provide adequate oversight of the mine in terms of health and safety.

The Chief Executive has commissioned an independent investigation to provide advice to him about:

  • Any actions or inactions of individual employees connected with the issue of the mining permit and/or the discharge of health and safety functions that may have contributed to the tragedy.
  • Any systemic failings within the former Department of Labour and/or the former Ministry of Economic Development that may be identified as having contributed to such actions or inactions of individual employees.
  • Whether any such actions or inactions may warrant a formal employment investigation.

For these purposes, an independent investigation is to be carried out David Shanks of Ministry of Social Development and Jane Meares, Barrister.

 

Approach

The following provides guidance to the approach to be adopted.

  • The findings in the Royal Commission Report will be used as a basis to commence investigations.
  • To avoid duplication of data gathering the investigation will make use of material that was gathered to support the Royal Commission.
  • The above material will be supplemented when necessary through other relevant material, including other agency records.
  • Selective interviews may be undertaken to assist information discovery and clarification.
  • The actions of individuals will be assessed against the expectations and obligations of employees of the former Department of Labour and /or the former Ministry of Economic Development, including those described in employment agreements, job descriptions, annual performance agreements, any policy or Code of Conduct, any other related documents, and in legislation, applying at the relevant time.
  • Procedural fairness will be observed throughout the investigation, based on the principles of natural justice.
  • •The investigators’ findings will be provided in a written report to the Chief Executive.

 

Scope & Process

The investigation is to cover any actions and inactions of individuals associated with the former Ministry of Economic Development including matters of policy, resourcing and enforcement linked to approving the mining permit in 1997 that may have contributed to the tragedy.

  • The investigation is to cover any actions and inactions of individuals associated with the former Ministry of Economic Development including matters of policy, resourcing and enforcement linked to approving the mining permit in 1997 that may have contributed to the tragedy.
  • The investigation is to cover any actions and inactions since 1 January 2005 of individuals associated with the former Department of Labour including matters of policy, resourcing, and enforcement linked to the start-up and on-going monitoring of the mine that may have contributed to the tragedy. 
  • It is anticipated that the investigation will cover
    • Establishing the operating and decision making context of both the Ministry of Economic Development and the Department of Labour relevant to the time period of these Terms of Reference
    • Identifying the staff forming part of the operating and decision making systems, including establishing those staff still employed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment.
    • An initial assessment of whether any individual through action or inaction within the context of the operating and decision making systems may have contributed to the tragedy.
    • Recommendations as to whether any formal employment investigations ought to be commenced in relation to any such actions or inactions by any staff still employed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment.
    • An identification of any element of the operating and decision making systems that may have contributed to the tragedy.
  • In addition, if any related matters come to the investigators’ attention during the course of their investigation; they may raise these matters with the Chief Executive who will decide whether or not to incorporate them into the scope of the investigation.
  • The investigators are to be provided access to all relevant information related to the matter.
  • Any employee of the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment who may be identified as having acted in possible breach of their employment expectations and obligations will be informed and will have the opportunity to respond to these proposed findings before the report is finalised. This may involve providing those employees with a copy of all or part of the draft report for comment before the report is finalised. Identified employees also will be advised of their right to representation.
  • The investigators will ensure that other affected persons have had a proper opportunity to respond to any proposed findings against them before finalising their report. This may involve providing those affected persons with a copy of all or part of the draft report for comment before the report is finalised.
  • It is not the purpose of this investigation to reconsider the detailed findings in the Royal Commission Report, or to challenge those findings. However, the investigators must also recognise that any affected individuals will be entitled to challenge those findings as part of a disciplinary process.

 

Timing

Project initiation – 19 November 2012
Data collection – no later than 21 December 2012
Analysis and consultation with affected individuals – no later than 31 January 2013
Final report – no later than 28 February 2013

 

Sponsor

The Chief Executive, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

 

Secretariat

The investigation team will be supported by a small Secretariat. The role of the Secretariat will be to provide information and support to the investigation, as required.

 

Reporting

A thorough report is to be provided to the Chief Executive outlining the investigation process and the findings of the investigation.

 

Use of the report

The investigation is to provide information to the Chief Executive to enable him to determine whether a disciplinary process should be initiated with any employee.

The investigation is to provide information to the Chief Executive as an input to possible changes to the operating and decision making system related to mine health and safety and issuing of mining permits.

Any decision about outcomes, and in particular, the need for and outcome of any disciplinary process, if a disciplinary process is deemed to be necessary, is for the Chief Executive to make after considering the report.

The Chief Executive may publish the report in part or in full.
 

Media contact details

For more information contact our Media Desk:

Phone 021 823 007 or

Email media@worksafe.govt.nz