Banker’s job as chairman suggests the co-governance model has been eschewed for Kiwi Group – but there are more posts to fill

Buzz from the Beehive

When David McLean retired as Westpac New Zealand Chief Executive in June last year, he said it was the right time, both for the business and for himself personally to step down.

The industry was going through a period of change and that was an appropriate time for a new leader to take the helm.

His future?

He didn’t mention golf, bowls or a sea cruise, but did say:  

“.. I am looking forward to thinking about the possibilities and challenges ahead. I’ve just finished two weeks touring the country on my Vespa in a charity rally, which gave me plenty of time to reflect and consider what retirement might hold for my family and I.”

Actually, there’s plenty to  keep him busy.

He is chair of KiwiRail Holdings and NZ Railways Corporation, chair of the Institute of Finance Professionals NZ, and is a member of the National Council for the Employment of Women, the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, and the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development.

And this week, to keep him off the streets and out of trouble, Finance Minister Grant Robertson gave him another job, announced in a press statement headed…

New Kiwibank parent appoints directors

David McLean and Sir Brian Roche have been appointed as the first two directors of the newly incorporated Kiwi Group Capital Limited (KCG), the parent company of Kiwibank.

Come to think of it, Roche is being kept busy too.  He is the Chair of Waka Kotahi – New Zealand Transport Authority – and Antarctica New Zealand. He chaired the COVID-19 Independent Continuous Review, Improvement and Advice Group, and has over 30 years’ experience at executive, director and chair level in private business and the public sector, including as a former Chief Executive of New Zealand Post.

Robertson’s statement  recalls that, in August, the government acquired 100 per cent of Kiwi Group Holdings, which also operates New Zealand Home Loans, from NZ Post, ACC and the NZ Super Fund.

The aim was to ensure the bank remained fully in New Zealand ownership.

Doesn’t the government have the same objective when it comes to public water services and the assets and management systems which  provide them, which is why it contrived a convoluted structure to hold shares and operate Five Waters?

Co-governance was a vital component, we have been told.

We are surprised Grant Robertson has seen no need for co-governance with Kiwi Group Holdings, although – fair to say – we can’t rule it out because there are more appointments to come.

And Robertson somewhat ominously has said: 

“I will appoint more directors in the near future with a view to board composition that is diverse and has a mix of skills required to fulfil its duties.”

McLean has been appointed as chair and Sir Brian as a director from 22 November, both for terms of three years.

KGC will be a 100 per cent Crown-owned company listed under Schedule 4A of the Public Finance Act 1989. It will be subject to the Companies Act 1993 and relevant provisions of the Crown Entities Act 2004.

The announcement is to be found on the Beehive website along with news of…

DIRA Amendment Bill passes third reading

The Government has passed an Amendment Bill today to support Fonterra’s move to a new capital structure and the continued success of New Zealand’s dairy industry.

The issues around this have been discussed previously on Point of Order.

Minister Whaitiri to attend Food Ministers’ Meeting with Australian counterparts

Minister for Food Safety Meka Whaitiri will attend the Fourth Australia and New Zealand Food Ministers’ Meeting in Melbourne on Friday.

The Food Ministers’ Meeting sets the policy direction for the Australia New Zealand Food Regulation System (the Joint System), which ensures smooth trade between the two countries.

The meeting also enables Ministers to approve new food standards developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), which ensures the food production systems in both countries remain relevant and fit for purpose.

But hey – don’t forget the Treaty:

 “I am also keen to discuss how indigenous culture and food knowledge can be utilised to strengthen the food regulation system between our two countries,” Meka Whaitiri said.

Those food scientists have  much to learn.

Defence Ministers meet in Cambodia

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

This was a meeting of Defence Ministers from ASEAN and its eight Dialogue Partners, including Australia, US, Japan and China.

Henare obviously is a dab hand at multi-tasking and holding two conversations at once.

The press statement says:

During the meeting, the Minister also held bilateral meetings with Cambodia, Singapore, Philippines, China and India.

The delegation returns to New Zealand on 26 November.

Pay equity extended to thousands more social workers

The Government will extend pay equity to all community and iwi organisations who employ social workers and receive funding from the Crown . Minister for Women Jan Tinetti announced today.

 We expect this will improve the lives of approximately 4,600 social workers.

 The cost to the taxpayer isn’t mentioned,

This agreement follows work last month, when the government announced a pay equity settlement for almost 500 social workers employed in five community and iwi organisations. They join more than 105,000 other working people who, since 2017, have received a pay “correction” as a result of a pay equity claim.

Taskforce set up to protect construction industry from product shortages & delays

A new Critical Materials Taskforce will bring together industry experts to watch for emerging supply chain risks in the building and construction industry.

Building and Construction Minister Megan Woods kicked off her press statement with four bullet points:

  • New ‘Critical Materials Taskforce’ will trouble shoot building materials shortages
  • Focus on maximising productivity & cushioning businesses from supply chain risks
  • Successful ‘Plasterboard Taskforce’ reshaped to include broader sector knowledge and expertise
  • Will provide guidance, data and information to support builders, designers and business owners.

The new task force includes sector leaders from the Government’s Plasterboard Taskforce, which was set up in June 2022, and has been reshaped to incorporate experts covering smaller operations, design, consenting, products and procurement.

Between the beginning of January and October this year, there has been a 444 per cent increase in the amount of plasterboard imported into New Zealand. A total of 4.6 million square metres of plasterboard and plaster-related products have been imported into New Zealand between January and October; enough to build over 9,000 homes.

The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will lead the Critical Materials and Products Work Programme (CMAP Programme) in partnership with the Critical Materials Taskforce.

  Bigger ED, more theatres and more beds in new Whangārei Hospital

A new emergency department with three times more space will be part of the first stage of a two-stage project to build a new hospital for Whangārei and Northland.

 This is about money as much as it is about health services.

The Government has confirmed funding for stage one of the new hospital – an acute services building and a child-health unit and a plan for stage two.

As well as an expanded ED that can comfortably cater for more people, the acute services building will have 10 operating theatres, a coronary care unit and modern intensive-care facilities.

The child-health unit will include a whānau house and emergency accommodation so families can stay with their children.

Stage two will include a 158-bed ward tower, with four medical and surgical wards and an acute assessment unit.

Little said it was originally expected both stages could have been funded out of the $780 million earmarked for the new hospital, but when it became clear that would not build the facility Northland needs, the project was broken into two parts

“Today I can confirm funding of $759 million for stage one. Construction work on stage two cannot start straight away, so final funding decisions on that stage will be made when planning is completed and a more accurate picture of costs is known.”

The new Whangārei Hospital is part of a $7 billion hospital rebuilding programme.

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