INDEPENDENT NEWS

Power Has To Answer For Human Rights Appointments

Published: Sun 21 Feb 2010 12:43 PM
Power Has Questions to Answer on Human Rights Appointments
Papers released under the Official Information Act show that Cabinet by-passed the normal process for appointing members of the Human Rights Review Tribunal and inserted five members, including former MPs Brian Neeson and Ken Shirley and National candidate Ravi Musuku without undertaking an interview described as ‘essential' by the Chair of the Tribunal, Grant Robertson Labour State Services Spokesperson said.
"As Justice Minister, Simon Power agreed to a process where candidates for appointment to the Tribunal were interviewed. This happened for a number of candidates, but it is clear from the papers that have been released that Brian Neeson, Ken Shirley, Ravi Musuku, Wendy Gilchrist and Gavin Cook were suggested as members by Ministers late in the process, and did not go through the same process as others who had been nominated," Grant Robertson said.
"It is not unusual for Ministers to suggest nominees, but in this case it goes directly against the advice of the Chair of the Tribunal Royden Hindle. The papers note his view that "without interviews by an appropriately selected interview panel the process will not provide an opportunity to properly assess the candidates suitability and thus will fail to provide sufficient security that conflicts of interest and any other potentially adverse issues are identified.
" The papers go on to note Mr Hindle's view that " appointment of members without interview would be at odds with the practice of past years and with practice followed in appointing members to other Tribunals having less constitutionally significant powers."
"Simon Power needs to answer the question as to why the members put forward by Minister do not appear to have gone through the interview process. I have raised concerns previously as to whether Mr Neeson was an appropriate appointment given his negative views on the human rights legislation the Tribunal is charged with upholding. The lack of an interview only increases my concerns about Mr Neeson's appointment." Grant Robertson said.
"We have already seen the case of Christine Rankin been appointed to the Families Commission when she held views that seemed at odds with their work. It seems there is now further politicisation of an important quasi judicial body. In addition there seems to have been a very sloppy process for these appointments. It is simply not good enough," Grant Robertson said.
ENDS

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