Health Minister David Clark has attempted to gag public servants, appearing to offer them jobs in return for their silence, National’s MP for Botany Jami-Lee Ross says.
“In a voicemail obtained by National, Dr Clark offers to consider former Counties Manukau District Health Board chairman Rabin Rabindran for further appointments while at the same time asking him to stop commenting on issues at Middlemore Hospital which were embarrassing the Government.
“In the voicemail, Dr Clark says he would like to publicly ‘signal… that I would consider you for further appointments’ and wanted to ‘test’ Mr Rabindran’s thoughts on that.
Dr Clark then goes on to discuss the ‘challenge with the media speculation’ about the hospital, adding that he’s seeing more and more ‘commentary’ in the media about issues at Middlemore Hospital, including public contradictions of claims by Dr Clark.
“Dr Clark adds that ‘I’m hopeful that there won’t be much more commentary. My fear is that if you and I keep commenting the story keeps ticking along… I’d rather not have a distraction about who said what when’.
“This is appalling. The Minister of Health appears to have been attempting to use his position to dangle jobs in front of Mr Rabindran to silence him in order to avoid embarrassment and his own untruths being exposed.
“Worse, newly released emails obtained by National also appear to suggest efforts by DHB staff to speak publicly in defence of their actions and in opposition to the Minister were suppressed by the Minister’s office.
“This is not good enough. Public servants including DHB leaders should have the right to contradict ministers if those ministers are not telling the truth.
“Instead, Dr Clark appears to have attempted to orchestrate a situation that benefited himself and the Government politically, at the expense of our hard working health professionals.
“This is yet another sign of an arrogant and incompetent Government in disarray.
“You have a Health Minister trying to silence officials, a Deputy Prime Minister suing the Government, an Economic Development Minister threatening business leaders and openly defying the Prime Minister, a Corrections Minister who has no clue and a bumbling Justice Minister who’s just been humiliated by his own party’s coalition partner, NZ First.
“It’s a shambles and it’s not good enough. It’s a clear breach of the Cabinet Manual, Dr Clark has not lived up to the standards required of a Minister and the Prime Minister needs to explain what she’s going to do about it.
“The Prime Minister needs to urgently get her Government together, hold her ministers to account and force them to start acting in the best interests of New Zealanders rather than themselves.”