Monday, February 22, 2010

Taking the government to task over Neeson

Labour is finally speaking up on the appointment of Brian Neeson to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, with state services spokesperson Grant Robertson criticising the appointment process:

"As Justice Minister, Simon Power agreed to a process where candidates for appointment to the Tribunal were interviewed. This happened for a number of candidates, but it is clear from the papers that have been released that Brian Neeson, Ken Shirley, Ravi Musuku, Wendy Gilchrist and Gavin Cook were suggested as members by Ministers late in the process, and did not go through the same process as others who had been nominated," Grant Robertson said.

"It is not unusual for Ministers to suggest nominees, but in this case it goes directly against the advice of the Chair of the Tribunal Royden Hindle. The papers note his view that "without interviews by an appropriately selected interview panel the process will not provide an opportunity to properly assess the candidates suitability and thus will fail to provide sufficient security that conflicts of interest and any other potentially adverse issues are identified.

"The papers go on to note Mr Hindle's view that "appointment of members without interview would be at odds with the practice of past years and with practice followed in appointing members to other Tribunals having less constitutionally significant powers."

Meanwhile, The Press has actually spoken to Neeson about his appointment, and has this lovely response:
Neeson said last night it was "fine" that he and the others had not been interviewed for the positions. "[It is] not [a problem] if you know the people who you are putting in those positions on their record."

He said it was "not quite right" that he had voted against protections for gay people. He would not elaborate further.

The first part is simply privilege in a nutshell. As for the second, I think Neeson's record speaks for itself. The man is a bigot, and completely unsuitable to be sitting on this sort of body. As I said earlier, appointing him to the HRRT is like appointing Taito Philip Field to an anti-corruption taskforce.

Simon Power has some serious questions to answer on why he appointed a totally unsuitable candidate to an important semi-judicial role without any interview (or even proper vetting). And hopefully we'll see those questions asked in Parliament this week.