I/S has revealed how Gerry Brownlee handpicked the “independent” body that is meant to monitor the use of his CERA powers. He appointed Jenny Shipley to the panel and got her $1000 a day, three times the usual pay. Brownlee said the extra was needed to get the people he wanted. But the chair says money didn’t enter into it for him.
Here’s what I/S investigation turned up:
- Brownlee had decided who he would appoint before the law had even been introduced to Parliament;
- The appointment process does not seem to have followed SSC guidelines [PDF]. It does not seem to have been advertised, even in the broad sense used by SSC; no long or short-list of candidates was drawn up [PDF]; no interviews appear to have been conducted to confirm the suitability of the candidates. It appears as if Brownlee pulled these names out of his arse, and then imposed them on us. The people of Canterbury, of course, were not consulted.
- To add insult to injury, having appointed these people with no proper process, Brownlee then decided to pay them at triple the normal rate [PDF], on the basis that “it will not be possible to secure their services under the current fees range”. No effort appears to have been made to find candidates who would do the work within the government’s budget. This was agreed to by State Services Minister Tony Ryall [PDF].
The last point is an out and out lie. The chair, Sir John Hansen, told TVNZ that he has never inquired about the remuneration and pay wasn’t an issue to him. He wanted the job because he considers it an “important public service”. He hasn’t even billed the government for the work he has done.
I wonder if the same is true of Shipley.