8 Dec 2008

Williams quits Govt-appointed board jobs

3:11 pm on 8 December 2008

Departing Labour Party president Mike Williams says he has already quit his three Government-appointed board jobs.

Mr Williams' formal resignation as party president was received on Saturday by Labour's governing council.

National, while in Opposition, was critical of Mr Williams sitting on several boards.

Prime Minister John Key told Agenda on TV1 that he would expect Mr Williams to leave his directorships.

But Mr Williams says he was advised by the agency that oversees Crown owned companies, the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit or CCMAU, that his resignation was expected by ministers in the new government.

Mr Williams says he has now resigned from Genesis Energy, the New Zealand Transport Agency and GNS Science.

He says the only complication is that he needs to have his name removed from an upcoming $150 million bond issue by Genesis.

Mr Williams says otherwise he would have liability, without accountability, for the bond issue.

The Labour Party's previous leader and deputy leader, Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, have already stepped down.

State Owned Enterprises Minister Simon Power said Mr Williams' resignation was appropriate. He said directors serve at the pleasure of the shareholding minister, and circumstances have obviously changed since Mr Williams' appointment.

Council member Andrew Little says Mr Williams will continue as president until March.

Mr Little said Mr Williams, who had a commercial background as a self-made businessman, clearly came under political pressure to resign.

At this stage Mr Little, national secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, is the only candidate for the Labour presidency.

Nominations for the position close in February.

Mr Williams became party president in 2000. Previously, he was Labour's campaign manager.

In February 2008, he offered his resignation over the handling of the donations to Labour.