Northland trucking company keeps its transport licence after agency drops action

Supplied During a hearing on NZTA’s application to revoke Stan Semenoff Logging’s operating licence, a secretly recorded conversation between Semenoff and a former employee was played in the High Court in Auckland.

The NZ Transport Agency has stopped trying to strip a major Northland transport company of its transport service licence. 

Stan Semenoff Logging (SSL) had sought a judicial review of the NZTA’s decision to revoke its licence based on audits which picked up 158 alleged log book infringements by drivers and found company vehicles had committed 116 traffic offences over a three year period. 

The agency said it had dropped the long running case against SSL because the company had taken steps to improve its fleet, such as installing GPS units and electronic logbooks in all its vehicles, to ensure drivers worked appropriate hours.

An agency spokesman said the legal action was taken in response to serious safety issues, SSL had acknowledged that it failed to comply with its safety obligations, and on-going surveillance would ensure it met the required standards. 

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Stan Semenoff Logging is the largest logging company in Northland, responsible for transporting about half of the logs in the region.

SUPPLIED Stan Semenoff Logging is the largest logging company in Northland, responsible for transporting about half of the logs in the region.

“We will be closely monitoring the safety performance of SSL, and we will audit the company again within the next six months to ensure that safety standards are being maintained.”

However, SSL recently failed in an attempt to reduce a £532,878 road user charges bill imposed by New Zealand Transport Agency after it was caught overloading its trucks on almost 70 per cent of the trips analysed. 

The company, which did not deny many of its trucks had run overweight, claimed a fair bill would be just under £200,000, but the High Court recently upheld a District Court ruling that the road user charges had been correctly calculated. 

Stan Semenoff Logging has retained its transport service licence after a long battle with the NZ Transport Agency, but still has to pay more than £500,000 in road user charges.

SUSAN EDMUNDS/STUFF

Stan Semenoff Logging has retained its transport service licence after a long battle with the NZ Transport Agency, but still has to pay more than £500,000 in road user charges.

NZTA said that now the High Court had ruled, it would recover the outstanding charges through its usual collection process, and there had been no indication the outstanding amount would not be paid.  

SSL is a major Northland employer and complained to five Cabinet ministers that it was the victim of a witch hunt by  transport authorities and immigration (which put a hold on its ability to employ migrant labour).

Last year the Labour Inspectorate investigated SSL for breaches involving unlawful wage deductions, unpaid breaks and failing to pay minimum wage. 

It said these issues were resolved through an enforceable undertaking, in which affected employees were paid £78,000 owed.

Company founder Stan Semenoff is a former mayor of Whangarei and had received support from local politicians for a place on the NZTA board.

Last year it was revealed that  Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones had introduced him to Transport Minister Phil Twyford as a possible NZTA director.

The National Party strongly criticised Jones, who also holds the Associate Transport portfolio, for discussing the SSL case with the chief executive of NZTA while it was before the courts. 

 

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