Health Minister Tony Ryall’s decision to sack Richard Thompson as Chairman of the Otago District Health Board on the grounds of historical fraud by a staff member has a nasty whiff of political interference to it.
Considering the fraud began before Thompson became Chairman and it was caught and stopped under his watch the case for sacking him seems pretty thin. As Pete Hodgson has pointed out, sacking the guy who helped catch the crook is nonsensical.
This is especially so given it’s now been two and half years since the fraud, he’s been kept on by three ministers since and has earned a fresh mandate by being re-elected as the board’s second-strongest polling candidate in 2007.
Given all this, you do have to ask what Tony Ryall’s sudden motivation for sacking him might be. NZPA provides some answers:
A defiant Mr Thomson today told NZPA he believed the real motivation to sack him was because he was a Labour Party member.
Mr Ryall’s decision reeked of political interference, he said.
‘He thought he could get rid of someone who batted for the other side and make some political capital out of it,’ he told NZPA.
The health board’s chief medical officer seems to agree, arguing that Thompson was blameless and that Ryall was simply looking for a scapegoat.
This whole affair reeks of the kind of political interference National campaigned to do away with.