Tim Gilbertson, Regional Councillor: A Dastardly Deed

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.

Tim Gilbertson

Join the Conversation


  1. Interesting commements from Tim. Just one of the growing number of situations where I really wonder if our present political system is appropriate for our small country. When you see how successfully other small countries such as Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries operate while our country seems to be sinking into quicksand, is it time to really challenge our system? Important issues seem to take years to sort while mickey mouse policies such as the anti smacking bill are ploughed through overnight. We are fast becoming a dictatorship thanks to President Helen!!!

    As for the supposed health benefits being attributed to the proposed Sports Park, can anyone dig up actual figures for the costs to tax payers of sports related ACC claims? It is big business! Be interesting to hear the exiled Health Board member's views on this one.

  2. As a long black drinker & watcher of Coro – I do miss Fred – I find the DHB drama intriguing. There seems no doubt the board was disfunctional and Tim's take that it was a result of the Hausmann's appointment and the Clarke/Lynd/King relationship (gang of four?) seems plausible. Clarke and Atkinson obvoiusly loath oneanother, and I can see how that could be generated by Clarke's direct line to Wellington. The questions I would like someone to answer is why Peter Dunkely's 'clash of interest' isn't seen in the same context as Hausmann's, and why did David Richie write an apology saying he was lied to by board members. Did Dunkely benefit his business interests? Did Hausmann threaten to sue Richie? There's much more to this than a conspiracy orchestrated from 'Helengrad'

  3. As one who voted against the judicial review could I say again that I believe we councillors have no mandate – no right – to spend our ratepayer's money taking the government to court on this issue.

    It is not part of our core business, our brief as councillors, however worthy the cause (though a 7 million dollar budget blowout plus the disfunctionalities and embedded conflicts of interest shown in the subsequent report undermines this rationale ).

    And sorry, Tim, but I do NOT approve of the Regional Council spending MY rates on this pointless exercise that has got nothing to do with your work. But was I ever asked?

    Like us ratepayers, Councils are strapped for money with conflicting demands constantly being weighed up. Spending tens of thousands of our rates dollars on this case, with no mandate from the ratepayers is not what I was elected to do.

  4. It's impossible to know the truth of this dispute without having been on the inside of it, but from a distance it seems all three parties – board, management, and government – made mistakes in the way things were handled. It is far too simplistic to blame government for over-reaction when the root cause – an inability (for whatever reason) to properly address conflicts of interest – lay with the board; regardless of how those conflicts might have arisen! How anyone in local government can accept members with declared conflicts of interest participating in debates that inherently involve those conflicts is beyond me – and you should know better, Tim, than to (in effect) condone this. Given that, I agree with Maxine: it is not a fight that TLA's should be involved in.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.