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Kerre Woodham: Outrage factor over Mahuta's family contracts is pretty minimal

Author
Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Sep 2022, 12:20pm

Kerre Woodham: Outrage factor over Mahuta's family contracts is pretty minimal

Author
Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Sep 2022, 12:20pm

I want to start with the hooha around Nanaia Mahuta, and more specifically her husband.

I want to be outraged. I really do. And when I first heard about all the contracts being awarded to Nanaia Mahuta’s husband, burning embers of outrage were flickering.

Because how can someone married to a Government minister be awarded so many Government contracts, without there being a steaming rat?

As a result of all the bubbling consternation about this, Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes has decided to have a long, hard look at how the four Government agencies that hired Gannin Ormsby, the minister’s husband who owns consultancy company Ka Awatea Services. He’s looking at how those Government departments have managed conflict of interest issues.

Now that's an investigation the Minister herself has been calling for. She's not immune to it. She knows that there have been finger pointing and grumblings and insinuations and what have you. She herself went to Chris Hipkins and said look for heaven sake, can we have an official investigation to show that I have had nothing to do with the appointment of my husband to these contracts?

She wrote to Chris Hipkins, Public Services minister asking him to get Peter Hughes to have a look at whether the Government departments had managed the issue properly and well.

New Zealand has a very, very small pool of talent of people who can do specific jobs that require specific skills. And it's got smaller without closed borders.

Ka Awatea Services deal with Māori consultation. And given that, every public department, public service department, now has to have the box ticked that says have we consulted with Māori , have we taken a te ao Māori view of the world. He's the man for the job.

I really wanted to be outraged but on this one the outrage factor is pretty minimal. It's happened before to other politicians from other parties whose family members have been employed to do jobs for the huge Government bureaucracy, and it will no doubt happen again.

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