With just over a month to go, the Royal Commission is sharply focused on the complex and significant task of synthesising evidence, to finalise an authoritative report for the Government and ultimately, the public.
Since November 2019 alone, the Royal Commission has held more than 120 meetings and interviews with government agencies, international organisations, diverse communities, interested individuals and groups, and affected families and survivors. This represents more than a third of the 340 meetings and interviews we have conducted in the inquiry so far.
Many of those interviewed, were summonsed to appear and provided their evidence under oath, privately. We have issued 47 summonses, and section 15 orders since mid-November for the evidence under oath process.
Section 15 orders issued under the Inquiries Act 2013 for interviews and meetings, prevented interviewees from coordinating or discussing matters with other interviewees.
The latest interviews include leaders of five State sector agencies, who have now been questioned under oath, representing the culmination of the last eleven months of our inquiry process.
“We have put direct questions and propositions to those leaders in the State sector and endeavoured to get satisfactory answers,” says Commissioner Sir William Young.
“We want to thank everyone who has interacted with the Royal Commission throughout the inquiry,” says Commissioner Jacqui Caine.
Before commencing under oath evidential interviews, meticulous preparation was required. This was the result of months of gathering evidence, talking to community members and analysing submissions.
While the evidence gathering process is complete, we have continued to interrogate evidence and material provided to the inquiry as we develop the final report.
Concurrently the inquiry is focused on a complex and intensive natural justice process, as set out in the Inquiries Act 2013.
“By law, the Royal Commission must follow a natural justice process. Put simply, this means treating people fairly if they feature negatively in the final report. After weighing up all the evidence, we may need to make adverse findings about people or organisations, including the accused. We must let them know so they can respond,” says Commissioner Sir William Young.
“We will decide what people get to see and how they see it; if they see anything at all. In some cases, we may just provide a short summary and only if it relates to them,” says Commissioner Jacqui Caine.
The Royal Commission must consider any feedback and concerns that come up during this process, but what goes in the final report is ultimately a decision for the Commissioners.
No agency or individual, including the accused, will get to see the full draft report.
“We can assure all New Zealanders that we will run a fair process, while also being sensitive to those most affected by the events of 15 March 2019,” says Commissioner Sir William.
The Royal Commission is grateful to all those asked to provide feedback through the natural justice process and appreciates that particularly for those agencies now diverted to responding to Covid-19 issues, this is an added pressure.
State sector leaders interviewed under oath include:
- Brook Barrington, Chief Executive, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Mike Bush, Commissioner, New Zealand Police
- Andrew Hampton, Director-General, Government Communications Security Bureau
- Andrew Kibblewhite, Former Chief Executive, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and current Chief Executive, Ministry of Justice
- Rebecca Kitteridge, Director-General, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
We also held meetings with people and organisations, including:
- Paul Ash, Former Director National Security Policy, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
- John Beaglehole, former Director National Security Policy, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Jonathan Bole, Deputy Chief Executive, New Zealand Police
- Sam Buckle, former Specialist Coordinator, National Security Group, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Mike Burgess, Director-General, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
- Jacinta Carroll, Director National Security Policy, Australia National University
- Rajesh Chhana, former Director of National Security Policy, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Mike Clement, Deputy Commissioner, New Zealand Police
- Philip Gaetjens, Secretary, Department of the (Australian) Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Wally Haumaha, Deputy Commissioner, New Zealand Police
- Iona Holsted, Secretary for Education, Ministry of Education
- Reece Kershaw, Commissioner, Australian Federal Police
- Dame Annette King, New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia
- Erik Koed, Assistant Commissioner, State Services Commission
- Professor Tracey McIntosh, University of Auckland
- Michael Outram, Commissioner, Australian Border Force
- Mike Pannett, Assistant Commissioner, New Zealand Police
- Catriona Robinson, former Director of the National Security Systems Directorate, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Rabia Siddique, Criminal and Human Rights Lawyer
- Rana Judge, Otara Business Association
- Suzanne Snively, ONZM, Chair, Transparency International New Zealand
- Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management and Deputy Chief Executive of National Emergency Management Agency
- Hon Margaret Stone, Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Australia
- Nick Warner, Director-General, Australia’s Office of National Intelligence
- Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand
- Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand
- Linwood Islamic Charitable Trust
- Masjid Al Huda/Dunedin Islamic Centre
- Masjid al Noor
- New Zealand Indian Central Association
- Purapura Whetu, Mental Health and Social Services, Christchurch
- South Auckland Muslim Association
Meetings and interviews with a number of current and former staff of State sector agencies have been conducted as well, confidentially, in private. Security and intelligence agencies have provided briefings and background meetings as required.
The Royal Commission must present its final report to the Governor-General by 30 April 2020.