John Marshall QC’s legacy as Chief Commissioner of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) was honoured at a function held for his retirement at Parliament’s Banquet Hall on 25 March.
“Over the past five years, as Chief Commissioner of TAIC, John has made a considerable contribution,” Transport Minister Simon Bridges said.
“He has been responsible for the leadership of several complex, sensitive and high profile investigations, including the Rena grounding, Carterton balloon tragedy and the Fox Glacier skydiving tragedy.
“Under John’s leadership, the crucial importance of the commission’s work has become more visible and better understood. He has shown considerable dedication and commitment to the role,” the Minister said.
“The issue of drug and alcohol impairment in transport has always been particularly close to John’s heart.
“Back in 2012, 11 people lost their lives in the Carterton hot air balloon tragedy, which naturally became the focus of an intensive inquiry by the commission. Before delivering the commission’s findings, John met with the families of the victims to explain the conclusions and recommendations. The following day, he released these conclusions and recommendations to the public.
“The commission’s findings were clearly set out, without being alarmist, but with firm understatement. The findings made clear the serious issues the commission believe[s] need to be addressed regarding impairment in transport in general,” Mr Bridges said.
Mr Marshall’s leadership had borne “significant results for TAIC,” the commission’s new Chief Commissioner, Helen Cull QC, said.
“From your years of serving on the Law Society committees, the Board and, ultimately, as NZLS President, you brought to the commission your understanding of the difference between governance and management.
“You gave our CEO, Lois Hutchinson, the licence to advance effective strategic planning for the organisation and actively engaged the board with it.”
Ms Cull described Mr Marshall’s leadership style as “a straight-forward, respectful and quiet one, which gives everyone a chance to express their views and from that, a consensus approach to some of the difficult problems the commission has faced.
“It has provided a strong platform on which the commission has stood on issues of public safety and regulatory matters.”
Acting on the commission’s specific recommendations, the Ministry of Transport has undertaken “significant work in alcohol and drug consumption on transport safety, with a view to implementing the commission’s recommendations following further submissions.
“This was something that I know you were very passionate about and it is very heartening to see the way the work of the commission has been acted upon – a matter that you can take personal pride,” Ms Cull said.