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Mike's Minute: Maharey was first step for major change at Pharmac

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 4 Dec 2023, 2:43PM

Mike's Minute: Maharey was first step for major change at Pharmac

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 4 Dec 2023, 2:43PM

You might have seen that Steve Maharey quit.

I first met him decades ago when he was Minister of Broadcasting. We had a long chat at the Radio Awards and I decided he was a nice bloke.

He went into academia, and of course a few good jobs, courtesy of Governments who return the favour for having hung out with them over the years.

One of those jobs was as Chair of Pharmac

Pharmac is in trouble for a couple of reasons. The first is David Seymour is gunning for them and will reform them as part of the new Government. And the second reason is the Sarah Fitt scandal, which unfolded before the election and never got properly resolved.

Fitt is the CEO and she, for reasons best known to herself, put some astonishing views about a journalist in email form, only to have them OIA'd and exposed to the world, which gave us an insight into what a narcissist she is.

Because it unfolded during the election Chris Hipkins, who had little if any spine left, didn’t do anything about it. By the time the board at Pharmac had a look and decided a “sorry” was in order, the election had been held, the three week wait for the count period had begun and every time I asked Hipkins what he proposed to do, he had gone into his "it's not my problem" phase.

Fast forward to December and Maharey, who is no fool, has seen the writing on the wall and bailed. He carries blame, because making Fitt apologise was pathetic. She needed sacking.

The entire affair exposed the deep dysfunction and arrogance within an agency that so many very hard done by New Zealanders so heavily rely on.

Maharey had the power to address the problem properly, but failed to do so.

Pharmac needs major change. It needs more money, which is the easy part, but the other issues around politics and games played as to what gets funded and when, has bogged the place down for years.

There is no golden bullet to get every pill and potion a country needs, but our model could be way better than it is. It could also be a lot better run, with not only a new chairman but a new CEO as well.

On that I wish Seymour Godspeed.

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