Tony Ryall and Bill English eviscerated Cunliffe today, bit by bit by bit. One question after another showing that despite his posturing he most assuredly is NOT running the show. It is only the lame attempts by Cullen and the protection of the Speaker that he survived. It appears from the transcript that Cunliffe knows more than he is letting on and that he is being very evasive over it. He repeatedly assures everyone he hasn’t seen a thing. When politicians assure you that something hasn’t happened ad nauseum it is pretty certain that it has. This whole episode reeks like rancid mutton and may well be the final scandal in this taudry government. i note that in the urgent debate this afternoon that the Greens and NZ Winston First were hunting for the minister as well. Is this the scandal that broke the camels back?
Hon Tony Ryall: Is the Minister aware of the email that shows that chief executive Chris Clarke instructed staff to send draft tender documents to Mr Hausmannâwho had indicated he would be a bidderâsome weeks before the tender process opened, and before any other bidder saw the documents; and is this acceptable behaviour?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: As I have already confirmed, I do not have access to the material that may be the subject of the director-generalâs independent review, but I do note that the member seems to be labouring under some misapprehension that it is my role to defend Mr Hausmann, which it is not.
Hon Tony Ryall: Is he aware of this email that shows that Mr Hausmann, appointed by the Labour Government, having received this confidential draft tender document, proposed changes that would benefit his company, and is that what he would expect of someone being appointed to the board of that very district health board?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: In the first place, may I reconfirm to the member and to the House that my decision of recent weeks did not turn on which parties may or may not have acted correctly, but is predicated on the level of overall conflict and dysfunction at that district health board. In the second instance I wonder whether the member is drawing upon material that is covered by a confidentiality deed, subject to lawyersâ undertakings, in respect of the director-generalâs independent process.
Hon Tony Ryall: Is he aware from this email that the chief executive agreed to alter the tender documents in precisely the terms proposed by Mr Hausmann, at a time when no other bidder had such access, and is that a proper and ethical process?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I think the public will find it very interesting, when the final director-generalâs report comes out, just exactly what has been doctored by whom.
Hon Tony Ryall: Is he aware that the final document that went out to all tenderers incorporated the changes proposed by Mr Hausmann, whose company was the eventual successful party, and does he think that all potential bidders were fairly treated equally in this process?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: May I firstly confirm that I do not have access to the material that is in the director-generalâs draft report, and, secondly, may I reconfirm to the House that my decisions in respect of the Hawkeâs Bay District Health Board do not turn on the proprieties or otherwise of any one individual, but rather, on the overall level of conflict and dysfunction surrounding that board.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. There is a standard in this House that when a Minister gives an answer it should be truthful. In successive answers the Minister has just contradicted himself. In this answer he said that he had no access to the draft material in the report being done by the Director-General of Health. In a previous answer he intimated that material was going to come out showing that someone had altered the minutes of no doubt some significant meeting. He cannot say both things to the House within 3 minutesâfirst, that he does not know about the material, and then on the other hand, give details and quote from that material.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The Minister clearly said he had not received details. In his previous answer he said he would welcome the report appearing, and he would expect that the report would show exactly who doctored what. I note the highly sensitive reaction from the Opposition front bench on that matter.
Hon Bill English: Dr Cullenâs explanation is completely irrelevant. The fact is the Minister made two directly contradictory statements about his access to the material. The House has the right to know which one it should believe, because it cannot believe both.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Mr English himself tried to cover his own butt by saying the Minister intimated certain things. What in fact happened was that members on the Opposition front bench inferred certain things, which might imply certain knowledge on their behalf.
Madam SPEAKER: This is a matter of debate, it is not a point of order, and undoubtedly there will be opportunities to do that.
Hon Tony Ryall: Does the Minister recognise that the email from Mr Hausmann proposing changes to the tender document, to his advantage, is a smoking gun showing that there is something rotten and improper in the relationship between the management of this district health board and Mr Hausmann, and does he condone this sort of activity within a public organisation?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: When the director-generalâs review is finally published, having been delayed by the board acting at the request of the chairman, I think we will see which smoking guns are pointed at whom.
Hon Tony Ryall: Does the Minister realise that this stench of cronyism all began because of Annette Kingâs foolish and senseless promotion of Mr Hausmann, and does the Minister have any idea why Annette King was so keen to appoint this man?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Any appointments that may have been made before my time as Minister are of little concern to me in this instance. I have actedâ[Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: Please continue.
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I have set out the grounds of my decision in respect of the Hawkeâs Bay District Health Board upon taking careful advice and considering all possible options. Those grounds have nothing in particular to do with the appointment to which the member refers.