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Health Minister David Clark’s crony appointments continue with the appalling decision to remove the previous chair of Pharmac and appoint a former Labour MP to the role, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“It‘s clear that David Clark’s decisions are questionable at best after he appointed Steve Maharey, a former Labour MP, to this role with no position description, application process, interview, without considering other candidates and without any other input into the decision.

“This decision also needs to be viewed in light of Clark’s handling of other appointments.

“This includes former Counties Manukau DHB chair Rabin Rabindran’s exit after his role was offered to former Labour MP Mark Gosche before Mr Rabindran was formally removed, his appointment of former Labour MP Pete Hodgson to the Southern Partnership Group which is steering the $1.4 billion Dunedin Hospital rebuild project, former Labour MP Margaret Wilson to the chair of Waikato DHB and former Labour Chief of Staff Heather Simpson to the major health review.

“This is an incredible string of crony appointments.

“As the agency responsible for buying lifesaving drugs for New Zealanders, Pharmac should be free of any political interference so it can make decisions based on the best available evidence and in the best interests of New Zealanders.

“This appointment destroys that independence. It will cast doubt on the new Chair’s decisions and raise questions about the Government’s influence on Pharmac.

“Clear advice was given that the current chair should be reappointed for between one to three years to manage Pharmac through upcoming changes and to ensure that a proper appointment process could be followed.

“Instead, the Minister has arrogantly disregarded that advice and shoulder tapped another former Labour MP.

“A Labour Health Minister appointing a former Labour MP to run the country’s drug budget with no proper process or proof to support his ability to do the job is inappropriate at best.”

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