Chamber president 'must quit'

By Patrick O'Sullivan

A Hawke's Bay businessman and friend of former Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce CEO Gavin Bush has called for the resignation of chamber president Katja Williams, claiming she made inappropriate comments regarding the absence of Mr Bush, who was in the job for just one month.

Mr Bush had been absent from the chamber for two weeks and when questioned by Hawke's Bay Today, Ms Williams said he had urgent family business to attend to.

His absence from the Westpac Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Awards was a surprise to many but on Friday the chamber announced he had resigned.

In an open letter Peter Bull said he was "extremely upset" at comments Ms Williams made to media that Mr Bush's absence was because he was attending to an urgent family matter.

"I am also staggered with the comment that he was stressed due to a family situation and this caused problems at work with the staff," he said.

Mr Bush told Hawke's Bay Today he would characterise his departure as having "left" the role "rather than resigned", and the reason he left was "because of philosophical differences".

" I thought it was better to move on rather to carry on," he said.

Mr Bull said Ms Williams had no right to speculate on Mr Bush's private life, saying it had damaged the chamber's reputation.

"For this reason at the very least there should be a complete review of the way the chamber operates." Ms Williams declined to respond to the comments.

The Chamber is responsible for enhancing the Hawke's Bay business environment and issues export documentation to the majority of the region's businesses, including free trade certificates and certificates of origin.

The CEO role also covered regional development agency Business Hawke's Bay.

The agency would be guided by the Business Hawke's Bay Advisory Group which operationally delivered the region's economic development strategy, Ms Williams said. The Group is made up of representatives from Councils, Hawke's Bay Tourism, Hawkes Bay Airport, Food Hawkes Bay and Iwi and chaired by agency business development manager Michaela Vodanovich.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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