Friday, November 01, 2013

"Proper procedure"

Back in September, we learned that Māori Television chair Georgina te Heuheu - a National Party crony appointed by an extremely dubious process - had made a crony appointment of her own, shoulder-tapping a friend with a shady history to serve as Chief Executive (an appointment which was later overturned). At the time te Heuheu assured the government that proper procedure has been followed. But she has a pretty odd idea of "proper procedure":

Documents released under the Official Information Act, reveal that Māori Television Board's Chairperson Georgina Te Heuheu, had declared a personal conflict of interest with one of the candidates applying for the CEO position.

Despite the declaration she continued to play a prominent role in shortlisting the candidates.

Ms Te Heuheu’s declaration of her personal relationship with one of the candidates occurred on the 16th of July. She suggested that Deputy Chairman, Tahu Potiki, chair the recruitment sub-committee.

An email was then sent to other board members 8 days later on the 24th July in which she says, rather than leave the culling of candidates to the recruitment agency, she should work with them on that task.

Whether this is a "proper procedure" for handling a conflict of interest is left as an exercise for the reader.

When he was questioned about this in Parliament, Bill English said that "[i]f there was any evidence to the contrary, then I suppose we would look at it". Its time he did. And its also time he looked at the wider problem of crony appointments to boards, and the messages they send about what is and isn't appropriate in the management of the public sector.