Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The usual crony process

Back in November, National made another round of crony appointments, appointing former backbencher Tau Henare to the board of Housing New Zealand, and former Energy Minister Phil Heatley to the board of EECA. I sent away the usual OIA requests seeking information on the process, and both reveal the appointments to be the usual crony hatchet job.

Henare's appointment documents are here. They reveal that Henare was nominated by English and was the only candidate interviewed. It is claimed that this was due to the unavailability of the other candidates to take up the position, but (possibly due to over-vigorous redactions) there is nothing in the released material to suggest that this is the case (and base don past appointment documents, it would be mentioned). Either way: Ministerial nominee gets position, no real questions asked.

Heatley's appointment is even worse. Bridges was advised that there were two vacancies, and a legal requirement that he publicly advertise the positions - he couldn't just reappoint the incumbents. But despite receiving 85 expressions of interest, that is exactly what he did, without bothering to conduct any interviews. And then, to add the icing on the cake, he appointed his mate Phil Heatley as an additional member, just because he could. It is clear from the briefing that he had already made his mind up about Heatley's appointment before the process began:

Following the briefing of 20 August 2015 [0562 15-16], you agreed to a process for replacing or reappointing these members. You also indicated you wanted to appoint an additional member, Hon Phil Heatley, increasing the board size to seven members.
So, those advertisements and the time and public money spent placing them and reviewing 85 applicants? All wasted. As was the time and effort of anyone who applied. In fact, its clear from this that unless you are a National crony, there is simply no point in applying for a position under this government, as the outcomes of these recruitment processes have already been pre-determined.

As a final note, both releases contain vigorous redactions of material as "out of scope". Thanks to Nick Smith, we know that such redactions cannot be trusted not to be misleading or to cover in-scope material, and as a result the redacted documents have been requested. Just another example of how Ministerial control-freakery makes more work for everyone.