Finance minister Bill English says the public service must "trim the fat" – but his brother has landed a lucrative contract at the Health Ministry.
Former Electricity Commission general manager Mervyn English is working on a new Health Sector Forum. Another consultant Paul McCormack, a former GP, has been employed to give specialist advice. Neither job was advertised.
The ministry would not say how much they were being paid. But Labour health spokesman Grant Robertson says it will be "an extremely high rate". "Why weren't these jobs advertised? I remain sceptical about this kind of appointment. This is exactly the same tactic of the 1990s of cutting jobs in the public sector and employing expensive consultants and contractors to replace them. On the ground, services are being cut right across public health, mental health and primary care."
It comes as new documents from State Services and Health Minister Tony Ryall reveal 475 Health Ministry jobs will go between June 2008 and June 2013, 90 of those in the next year.
A spokeswoman for the ministry said Mr English was a "fixed-term employee". His contract would expire in October, and the job would be made permanent and advertised. His role was "to establish and co-ordinate the Health Sector Forum and provide a forum for health leaders to achieve a whole-of-system approach to translating the Government's health priorities into collective action".
Dr McCormack would provide specialist clinical advice on a project "to provide primary health care services closer to home".
The role was not advertised because the ministry approached Dr McCormack for his expertise, she said. The ministry had cut its budget for contractual services by 30 per cent in the past year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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