Mahuta’s husband and the Public Service Commission inquiry: how Chris Hipkins ineptly played the race card

We intended alerting our readers (if they had not already noticed) to how Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins played the race card in the matter of the Public Service Commission deciding to look into the propriety of government contracts awarded to Nanaia Mahuta’s husband.

We have taken a short cut and will draw attention, instead, to this post on Kiwiblog by David Farrar under the heading Hipkins apologises for smearing English.

Farrar references a report posted by Stuff  (which until now has studiously steered clear of the contracts and the questions about  procedural issues they have raised).

Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins has apologised in the House to former finance minister Sir Bill English for dragging his family into an exchange over government contracts awarded to the husband of Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Hipkins on Wednesday afternoon interjected during Question Time with an apparent reference to English’s brothers being provided government appointments. This came after ACT leader David Seymour questioned the Government on the contracts awarded to Mahuta’s family.

“Let’s talk about Bill English’s family, shall we?” Hipkins said, suggesting English’s family members were treated differently because they were “white”.

Farrar observes:

Labour love to play the race card to defend themselves. But this has backfired on them, because the facts are so bad.

What Hipkins was referring to was the appointment of Mervyn English to a fixed term role in the Ministry of Health in 2011, to set up a Health Sector Forum.

Mervyn was a career public servant. He had spent six years as a general manager at the Electricity Commission before the Health role. After that role, he held senior roles in the State Services Commission and DOC.

His brother, Bill, was not a Minister of Health.

Labour did actually question the appointment at the time, with Grant Robertson asking questions in Parliament.

The Minister Tony Ryall immediately asked the SSC to investigate, and they found everything was done properly.

Now compare this to the Mahuta contracts:

    • None of the Ormsbys seem to have had a background in the public sector and only gained contracts once Mahuta was a Minister
    • They were given consulting contracts, not an employment contract
    • Three of the four contracts were in portfolios that Mahuta was a Minister
    • Internal reviews to date have found proper processes were not followed
    • The Government has spent months resisting an inquiry

So Labour playing the race card and trying to smear the English family over the Mahuta saga is very disappointing.

Thanks, David.  We can pack up a bit earlier now for the long holiday weekend.

But before we wrap up, let’s recall that Nanaia Mahuta some time ago responded to allegations of nepotism by saying:

“I’ve got a talented whanau. Conflicts have been declared, managed appropriately, and in accordance with the Cabinet Manual.”

We keenly  await the Public Service Commissioner’s report.

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