Conflicts of Interest

Most media interest on the Christchurch Polytechnic computer course scandal has been how they used funding rules to get an obscence $15 million of funding to merely provide people with a computer CD. This is exactly why I will never accept that more funding is automatically the solution to better outcomes.

What is alarming me is the refusal of the Government to order an inquiry into the role of Labour Party stalwart and former Mayor Vicki Buck in the scandal. As the AUS newsletter points out, Ms Buck is a staff member of CPIT and brokered the deal with Brylton Software to to set up the programme, which resulted in around $5 million to Brylton which Ms Buck is a shareholder and director of. There is no written evidence of a conflict of interest being declared.

I have personally been in a situation where a company or organisation I sit on the board of, has wanted to do business with a company I am a shareholder of. In each situation I have insisted on removing myself from any discussion as to which company is used, have insisted upon the minutes of the next meeting recording my conflict of interest, and even asked the Auditors to check whether the notes for the annual accounts need to record the transactions as being with a related party.

To do so is simply recommended best practice for dealing with conflicts of interest. The amounts concerned in my case were for under $10,000. For Ms Buck it is allegedly up to $5 million. Absolutely scandalous yet no inquiry.

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