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NRT: Catherine Isaac’s crony appointment

Written By: - Date published: 9:58 am, April 30th, 2012 - 6 comments
Categories: act, scoundrels - Tags: , ,

The indefatigable Idiot/Savant at NRT has been looking at the appointment of Isacc to head the Charter School Working Group. It seems to have been conducted with all the professionalism and integrity that we have come to expect of ACT.


Catherine Isaac’s crony appointment

Last month, John Banks appointed former ACT candidate and party president Catherine Isaac to head the Charter School Working Group. It looked like a crony appointment – Isaac has no relevant expertise – so I submitted the usual OIA request, seeking information on whether the appointment process had followed the SSC guidelines [PDF]. I received the response back today, and its pretty shocking.

Two documents were released. The first of these was an (incomplete) Cabinet Paper [PDF] formally appointing Isaac and other members of the Working Group. As part of this paper, Banks certified to Cabinet (as required by Cabinet guidelines) that

I can confirm that an appropriate process has been followed in considering the proposed nominees in terms of the SSC Appointments Guidelines. Nominated agencies such as Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs were invited to submit names of suitable candidates.

That may very well have been true of the ordinary group members. It was not true of Ms Isaac. The other document – a report on the establishment of the Working Group [PDF] – paints a blunt picture of the “process”:

The decision has already been made to nominate Catherine Isaac as the Chair of the Group.

And that’s it. No person specification, no call for nominations, no interviews, no assessment. The Minister simply shoulder-tapped someone – who just happened to be a member of his party, a former candidate, and former party president – and that was that. That’s not consistent with the SSC guidelines, and claiming that it is is simply a lie. The appointment was cronyism, pure and simple.Another interesting feature: appointment papers are required to specify how much the appointees will be paid. This one did not, saying only that

The Group is classified as a Group 4 Level 2 Working Group under the Cabinet-approved fees framework. Appropriate fees will be determined with reference to the framework.

(Link added)There’s a bit of wiggle room there, so I’ll be doing a followup OIA to determine exactly how much Isaac is being paid and whether Banks sought an exemption from the framework for her.

Appointments to government positions are supposed to be on merit. Sometimes, a former MP or party affiliate is the best person for the job – in which case you’d expect that to be apparent from the appointment papers and the process followed. But when such a person is appointed with no competitive process, based on apparently no more than their personal links with the Minister, then it is cronyism. And we should not tolerate it in our public service.

6 comments on “NRT: Catherine Isaac’s crony appointment”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    I do wonder what’ll happen if Banks ends up losing Epsom. Isaacs seems to be the obvious person to contest the seat, but if she’s all tied up in this working group, what then?

    • Pascal's bookie 1.1

      Easy, Banks goes on the working group. :)

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        Would reflect Act’s total lack of class and be true to form I suppose.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1.2

        That seems to fit

        Banks has followed all guidelines for appointing the Chair

        Banks has followed all laws for reporting his donations

  2. captain hook 2

    one has to remember that ACT is a party of venal cost accountants who believe that their thoughts are facts.
    furthermore they dont care what happens to any present system as long as they get their jobs and their incomes.
    basically they are crummy and we have to put up with them till the wheel turns.

  3. Chaz 3

    Given that the policy is one that is so politically charged it can hardly be a surprise that anyone implementing it would ensure that the person doing so was ideologically sound (from their point of view, whatever you might think of it.)

    I would point out to you however that the act of nominating someone is not the same as the act of appointing someone and John Banks is entirely within his rights to make a nomination.

    Also – Given the example of the labour party when it gained power in 1999 in terms of crony appointments, not the least being the example of the president of the labour party who was suddenly indispensable on boards all over the country, not incidentally managing to tie himself into a lucractive career, earning him in the high six figures, this blog is really the last group to be throwing stones about crony appointments. isn’t it?

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