5 Nov 2020

Wellington health board panel member accused of conflict of interest

4:48 pm on 5 November 2020

A Pacific leader's input into recruiting a director at a Wellington health board is a clear conflict of interest, the conservative Taxpayers' Union group says.

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Photo: Artur Szczybylo/ 123rf

The Capital and Coast District Health Board confirmed the selection panel for its new Pacific health director includes Tino Pereira, chair of the Central Pacific Collective.

Last year, the collective received a contract worth $1.3 million from the health board's former Pacific health director.

Taxpayers' Union campaigns manager Louis Houlbrooke has written an open letter to health board chief executive Fionnagh Dougan raising the concerns.

"Tino Pereira will have a say on hiring the person who will be responsible for evaluating his service delivery and potentially renewing his high-value contract," Houlbrooke said.

"It appears to us to be a clear conflict of interest that creates a hazard for taxpayers: there is a risk that Mr Pereira hires someone favourable to his organisation, or simply that the appointee will feel indebted to him for their appointment to a position likely to pay in excess of $450,000.

"Our taxpayer-funded DHBs must studiously avoid any situation that could lead to an 'I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine' approach to contracting."

The health board's director of people, culture and capability, Declan Walsh, said Pereira was one of several people who would have input into the recruitment process.

The final decision would be made by the chief executive, Walsh said.

"As Mr Pereira is just one voice in the multi-faceted conversation around this appointment, we are comfortable that we are appropriately managing any conflict of interest.

"Similarly, conflict of interest is taken into account and managed appropriately when considering any and all contracts."

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