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Former Labour MP quits boards as new Government takes office

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 1 Dec 2023, 1:10PM
Steve Maharey has quit two government boards. Photo / NZME
Steve Maharey has quit two government boards. Photo / NZME

Former Labour MP quits boards as new Government takes office

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 1 Dec 2023, 1:10PM

Former Labour MP and minister Steve Maharey has resigned from the boards of Pharmac and ACC.

He was the chair of both boards, having been appointed to both under the last Labour Government.

Maharey got into trouble earlier this year in the wake of the Rob Campbell scandal after penning opinion columns that flouted the political neutrality expected of public service board members. He offered his resignation to then-Minister Ayesha Verrall, but it was not accepted.

In a statement, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti said he had accepted Maharey’s resignation yesterday.

“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.

“The Government will appoint a new permanent chair in due course.

“Dr Peter Bramley, currently the deputy chair, will act as chair until that point,” Reti said.

Incoming Associate Minister of Health David Seymour told the Herald that the Government had not sought Maharey’s resignation.

“We didn’t seek his resignation, he has unilaterally resigned. And obviously, I am sure the Government will accept his resignation,” Seymour said.

Seymour had been critical of Pharmac’s culture and that this was ultimately the responsibility of the board.

There’s got to be a cultural change at Pharmac. There appears to be something of a siege mentality, rather than a collaborative mentality with patients as stakeholders and we’ll be looking to make that change,” Seymour said.

He said he would not pre-judge whether Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt was “in the right or wrong” on the issue of cultural change.

Seymour told the Herald that he could not speak as the Associate Minister of Health because his delegation letter had not yet been signed, which would happen early next week. He said appointing a new permanent chair would be one of the first things he would do.

ACC Minister Matt Doocey released a parallel statement on Maharey’s resignation from ACC.

“I want to acknowledge Steve Maharey’s service to ACC since joining the board in 2021,” the statement read.

“The Government will appoint a new permanent chair in due course.

“Dr Tracey Batten, currently the deputy chair, will act as chair until that point,” it said.

Maharey was a Labour MP from 1990 to 2008, and served in the Fifth Labour Government as Minister of Education, Social Development, and Research Science, and Technology.

Thomas Coughlan is Deputy Political Editor and covers politics from Parliament. He has worked for the Herald since 2021 and has worked in the press gallery since 2018.

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