1 May 2013

Devoy selection panel revealed

7:57 pm on 1 May 2013

The Secretary of Defence and head of New Zealand Post were on the panel that interviewed Dame Susan Devoy for the job of Race Relations Commissioner, it has emerged.

Dame Susan, a former world squash champion, was controversially appointed to the job in March this year.

The disclosure has been made in the answer to a written Parliamentary question filed by the Green Party, which describes the panel's make-up as "extremely odd".

They were: New Zealand Post chief executive Brian Roche, Secretary of Defence Helene Quilter and Justice Secretary Andrew Bridgman.

Greens MP Catherine Delahunty said on Wednesday the so-called independent assessment panel did not have the background to do its job.

Ms Delahunty said defence and postal communications have very little to do with race relations or the commissioner's job, and there are many others with more direct professional experience who could have been on the panel.

Former Race Relations Conciliator Rajen Prasad said he is very surprised that a human rights or race relations voice was missing from the panel.

Mr Prasad, who is now a Labour Party MP, said it is an awful make-up for such a panel.

"I've been interviewed by panels as well, and I know of other panels that have been constructed for this job. They would normally have people who have expertise in it, who have community credibility."

Justice Minister Judith Collins, who signed off the appointment, is overseas and was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, a former All Black who passed up the Race Relations Commissioner's job denies that he and Dame Susan were only interviewed because of their fame.

Michael Jones declined the role for family reasons and said criticism of her appointment is unfair.

"I think it's easy to get on the bandwagon just because she's a sports person. It's easy to have a crack at someone who is high-profile and fits a certain box.

"But it really is important that we recognise all of the various dimensions to who she is and let her get on with the job."