1 Dec 2023

Public sector boss Steve Maharey resigns as chair of Pharmac and ACC

1:48 pm on 1 December 2023
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 02: Steve Maharey, the Chair of New Zealand drug buying agency Pharmac listens as Crohn's and Colitis (Inflammatory bowel disease) patients and supporters protest outside the Pharmac offices on December 02, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Standing with him are Pharmac CEO Sarah Fitt and gastroenterologist Dr Richard Stein. Protesters are marching on Pharmac and Parliament to present a petition asking for access to ustekinumab, a medication for New Zealanders suffering with severe Crohn's and Colitis. (Photo by Lynn Grieveson - Newsroom/Newsroom via Getty Images)

Steve Maharey. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / Newsroom via Getty Images

Steve Maharey has resigned as chairperson of the boards of Pharmac and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

It's still unclear why he resigned. RNZ has contacted him for comment.

A former Cabinet minister for Helen Clark's Labour government, he also writes a regular opinion column and finished his three-year term as chair of Education NZ in March.

In separate statements, Minister of Health Shane Reti and Minister for ACC Matt Doocey confirmed they had accepted Maharey's resignations yesterday.

"As Minister of Health, I yesterday accepted the resignation of Hon Steve Maharey as chair of the board of Pharmac," Reti said. "Steve Maharey tendered his resignation to the government by way of a letter to Associate Minister of Health David Seymour.

"I want to acknowledge Steve Maharey's service to Pharmac since joining the board in 2018," Reti said.

Doocey, the Minister for ACC, said he had also accepted Maharey's resignation as chair of ACC on Thursday.

"I want to acknowledge Steve Maharey's service to ACC since joining the board in 2021."

Maharey, a former Labour Minister, offered his resignation this year, after he made political comments in an opinion column.

However, the Public Service Commissioner found while Maharey had breached the code of conduct, his actions did not justify his removal from his roles.

The new coalition government plans to appoint Maharey's replacements soon.

One of the coalition's plans is to carry out reform of Pharmac.

In comments on Tuesday, ACT leader David Seymour - who has assumed responsibility for Pharmac - said the culture there needed to change, and he was reserving judgment on whether chief executive Sarah Fitt should continue in her role given recent comments she had made.

These included emails from Fitt about journalist Rachel Smalley's campaign to have the agency reformed, with Fitt making comments about Smalley that Labour's former health minister Ayesha Verrall said were disappointing and unprofessional. Maharey himself also criticised the remarks as unacceptable.

Dr Peter Bramley, currently Pharmac's deputy chairperson, will act as chairperson in the interim.

Dr Tracey Batten, ACC's deputy chairperson, will also act as chairperson.