Cronywatch: Former Labour minister Pete Hodgson replaces sacked hospital chair

The government is now moving to stack boards and appointments with their cronies.

Despite years of criticising the former National government of crony appointments it has taken the new government just a few weeks to start appointing their own cronies.

They’ve even started sacking people to make room for their pals.

Health Minister David Clark has sacked the Dunedin Hospital rebuild chairman and appointed former Labour cabinet minister Pete Hodgson to lead the project.

When contacted, Hawke?s Bay consultant Andrew Blair said his role as Southern Partnership Group chairman was “terminated” this week. Dr Clark told the?Otago Daily Times?the rebuild needed to be led by a local person.

“I wanted to have stronger local leadership. He [Mr Blair] was amenable to standing down.”

Dr Clark?s other move is appointing University of Otago chief operating officer Stephen Willis to the group now led by Mr Hodgson. Mr Willis has replaced Auckland consultant Tony Lanigan.

The other members of the group are Richard Thomson, of Dunedin, and Drs Margaret Wilsher and Andrew Connolly, both of Auckland.

Yesterday, Dr Clark said he was frustrated by the years of delay and stalling. He did not blame Mr Blair for the delays, Dr Clark said.

It reflected the previous government?s lack of focus on Dunedin Hospital.??Everybody . . . acknowledged that it was Dunedin?s turn for a hospital rebuild ? the only major centre in New Zealand not to have its hospital rebuilt.

“I thank Andrew for his service and expect him to continue to provide informal guidance where his expertise is required for the project.”

Mr Hodgson, Dr Clark?s predecessor in Dunedin North, served as MP from 1990 to 2011, and held numerous ministerial portfolios in the fifth Labour government.

“As a former minister of health, he understands the complexity of the issues involved,” Dr Clark said.

“He is indisputably a local champion, and? . . . is well connected into health.

“I?m delighted that he?s agreed to lead the partnership group for the next three years.”

Mr Hodgson would be charged with implementing Labour?s vision for the rebuild, including a promise to start construction before the 2020 election. Mr Willis? would not vote on any rebuild decision directly pertaining to the university, Dr Clark said.

Pete Hodgson was one of the more nasty of former Labour MPs. He was investigated for an assault in September 2005.

Police have found that Health Minister Pete Hodgson committed a technical assault when he grabbed Madeleine Flannagan’s arm during a political protest at the University of Otago in September, but will not be charging him.

This is second high-profile crony appointment from Labour and still not a word from Malcolm Harbrow at No Right Turn. I suppose he has abandoned his conrywatch series now his team are in power.


-ODT, NZ Herald