Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Seriously conflicted

Back in May, then-Families Commissioner Christine Rankin took up a position as CEO of the Conservative Party. At the time I thought that this was a serious conflict of interest. Now, via FYI, I learn that the State Services Commission agreed [PDF]:

SSC has no documentary advice on this matter however on 10 May 2013 SSC's view was sought by officials of the Ministry of Social Development in discussion concerning the appointment of Ms Rankin as CEO of the Conservative Party while undertaking her role as a Families Commissioner.

The State Services Commission's expressed view was that there was a conflict and that it was not one that was manageable. This view was communicated in discussion with Ministry officials on the same day. The State Services Commission did not provide advice directly to the Minister for Social Development.

Ms Rankin did not inform the State Services Commission of her intention to take up the role of CEO of the Conservative Party, nor of her membership of the Board of the Conservative Party, and the State Services Commission did not provide advice to her on this matter.

Rankin left the Families Commission 4 days later, but note the dates: MSD didn't ask for advice until the appointment had already been publicly announced - suggesting that she sprung it on them by surprise. Meanwhile the absence of any similar request for advice on the board position is worrying, and may mean that she didn't tell them about it at all. There's apparently a parallel request in with Paula Bennett for her end of the story, and it will be fascinating to see what comes out, and whether she acted effectively in recognising and managing Rankin's conflicts.