In June 2009, Minister of Immigration, Jonathan Coleman told the Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee that he was going to employ an “external adviser” in the Immigration Service. Someone who was independent who would “operate in the same way that a management consultant would in a business situation, reporting to him”. If he felt like it, he would pass on any key messages to the Chief Executive, but would not guarantee that information would be shown to him. The report from the Select Committee to Parliament says :
“Some of us are concerned that the appointment of an external adviser, in a parallel reporting arrangement alongside the chief executive, may conflict with the requirements of the State Sector Act 1988, which makes departmental chief executives responsible for employees in their departments, and the Public Finance Act 1989, which makes them responsible for expenditure. The Minister, however, maintains that the State Services Commissioner is comfortable with the arrangement and would not have advised the Minister to proceed with the appointment if it breached the technical provisions of either piece of legislation.”
Not so, it seemed. On 1 July, there was an advertisment in the Dominion for a Deputy Chief Executive, reporting to the Chief Executive of the Department of Labour (as Labour said he should) and not Jonathan Coleman. We think he got biffed by the State Services Commission and had to back down.
An announcement of the appointment was made on the 12 November, not by Minister Coleman, but by the Chief Executive of the Department of Labour, Christopher Blake.
And then, at the recent financial review of the Department of Labour, we got the whole story. It cost more than $107,000 to recruit Jonathan’s minder, who after all, isn’t a minder. They searched around the world and came up with Nigel Bickle, currently Deputy Chief Executive, Sector Capability with the Department of Building and Housing, who will take up the new role early this year.
The costs of filling the position of Deputy Chief Executive (Immigration) as given in response to Labour’s questions at the recent financial review were :
|Advertising (in NZ and offshore)||$23,559.24|
|Testing Process (five candidates)||$31,000.00|
|Executive Appointments Fee & Disbursements||$48,401.20|
These are only the recruitment costs – I have no idea what the salary is.
Minister Coleman isn’t the first in the National Act government to try to politicise the public service. But this one not only backfired, but has cost taxpayers a lot of money.