I remain intrigued by the dumping of the District Health Board last year, a dastardly deed if ever there was one.
Minster of Health Annette King appointed Peter Hausmann to the DHB, against the advice of her own department and the Board. They feared that Hausmann’s close links to the healthcare industry would make conflicts of interest inevitable. King’s husband, Ray Lynd, was Chief Financal Officer at the DHB and the CEO was Chris Clarke, ex Prime Minister’s Department.
As things turned out, Mr. Hausmann was seriously naughty and Mr. Lynd and Mr. Clarke were implicated in his misdeeds. When the cat escaped the bag, courtesy of a Whistleblower (who lost her job very soon afterwards), Board Chairman Kevin Atkinson called for an inquiry.
This created a major problem for the Government: If the truth came out, Mr. H would be in very big trouble as would Annette, Ray and Chris. In some quarters, their conduct was regarded as criminal. There was evidence of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. How could Helen persuade the electorate in November she was fit to govern if some of her mates were possibly heading for the slammer?
Helen went for the pre emptive strike. David Cunliffe succeded Annette King as Minister of Health. He did the sacking and master-minded the disinformation campaign to justify the dirty deed.
He followed the same operating procedure Muldoon used to dispose of Justice Peter Mahon after the Erebus Enquiry. Throw mud at your opponenets, launch a PR blitz to discredit them, turn the tables by throwing accusations at them, no matter how bizarre or far fetched, of : incompetence, dishonesty, corruption. Then lie, distort, dissemble, exaggerate until everyone is so confused they just want the whole thing to go away. Stories and letters appeared in the press, notably by ex- labour MP Bill Sutton, explaining why a democratically elected body should be sacked after a mere four months in office.
Cunliffe set up an Inquiry with terms of reference that excluded examination of the cause of the problem. He focused on the end game when the board was in a mess because Hausmann and its own Managers had largely destroyed board functionality. Cunliffe put his lackeys on the Inquiry panel to massage the conclusions. He made allegations under privilege in Parliament that he wouldn’t repeat outside the house. Law firms with close links to the Beehive began threatening sacked board members with legal procedings, using unsubstantiated allegations to try and cow them into submission.
Nasty stuff. The Wellington Establishment used all its power to mislead the public and put the frighteners on the Board members. Just like Muldoon did to Justice Mahon, when Mahon told the truth about Air New Zealand. It killed Mahon. The current witch hunt is putting serious pressure on the sacked board members, whose only crime has been to faithfully serve their community.
The final report is rubbish, but it got Helen off the hook in the short term. Some are fighting back. Two of the board members have laid a complaint over the matter with the police. The five HB Councils have launched a judicial review asking that the board be reinstated. Wellington is desperately trying to delay the case until after the election.
The sacked board members are honest men and women. I have known five of them for years and they are people of the utmost integrity. The same cannot be said of most of the other characters in this sorry drama.
So far, the bad guys are winning but the good guys are fighting back. Any one who believes in integrity, good government and a free democracy should be fighting along side them.
The rest of you just keep drinking your lattes and watching Shortland Street.