Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

No 'mates basis' for EQC hiring - Commission

Insurance and demolition workers watch as the earthquake damaged building on the corner of Gloucester and Manchester Streets is demolished in Christchurch. Photo / NZ Herald
Insurance and demolition workers watch as the earthquake damaged building on the corner of Gloucester and Manchester Streets is demolished in Christchurch. Photo / NZ Herald

Reports the Earthquake Commission's hiring practices were riddled with nepotism as it rapidly expanded its workforce following the Canterbury earthquakes were exaggerated or simply wrong, the commission says.

Appearing before Parliament's finance and expenditure committee, Earthquake Commission chairman Michael Wintringham and chief executive Ian Simpson faced questions about the response to the quakes.

Labour list MP Clayton Cosgrove quizzed Mr Wintringham about allegations that many appointments as the commission's workforce swelled from just 20 to a peak of 1350 were made on the basis family relationships or on "a mates basis".

Mr Wintringham said all allegations of improper hiring practices except those made anonymously had been investigated.

The commission had identified just nine incidences when people with family connections to existing employees were hired.

He said no one within the commission had directly hired or subsequently managed a family member "and thirdly for the most part, those people worked in different areas".

Stories of nepotism and hiring practices that breached public sector standards were "either largely over-rated or in most cases wrong".

He believed the allegations had unfairly "besmirched" the organisation.

Mr Wintringham's comments come just days after figures released to media revealed about 30 EQC management and field staff had close family relationships with other staff within the organisation.

Those relationships were revealed after management and also field staff applying for jobs for 2012 were asked to fill out a conflict of interest form late last year.

An independent review of the recruitment process for 2012 staff cleared the appointments.

The review was prompted by allegations of nepotism and "jobs for the boys" within the commission's highly paid field staff division.

- NZ Herald

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