Clark accused of gagging public servants: MP

Health Minister David Clark said he wanted to "test" Rabindran to see if it sat well with him.. Photo: NZ Herald
Health Minister David Clark said he wanted to "test" Rabindran to see if it sat well with him.. Photo: NZ Herald

Health Minister David Clark has tried to gag public servants, appearing to offer them jobs in return for their silence, National's MP for Botany Jami-Lee Ross said.

Jami-Lee Ross has provided the New Zealand Herald with a voicemail of Clark that appears to show the Health Minister offered to consider former Counties Manukau District Health Board chairman Rabin Rabindran for further appointments if he stopped commenting on issues at Middlemore Hospital.

In the voicemail, which appeared to have been sent on April 18, Clark said he would like to "signal" that Rabindran would be considered for "further appointments" and wanted to know if he would be comfortable with that.

Clark said he wanted to "test" Rabindran to see if it sat well with him.

"The challenge with the media speculation and I noticed more and more getting reported, is really not helping at all.

"I am hopeful that there won't be much more commentary, my fear is if you and I keep commenting the story keeps ticking along and it became about personality rather than the history.

"I'd rather not have the distraction about who said what when the bigger issue is the historic underfunding of the health sector and the consequences of that."

He said he would like to "signal" that Rabindran would be considered for "further appointments" and wanted to know if he would be comfortable with that.

Ross said the voicemail was "appalling" and said Clark was dangling "jobs in front of Rabindran to silence him to avoid embarrassment and his own untruths being exposed".

"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.

"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."

Clark has denied accusations that he was trying to gag the board members, telling Newshub last night that conversations through media led to unclear communication.

In response to Ross saying that the minister was using his position to dangle jobs and silence the board member Clark said: "No, I absolutely reject that."

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