Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has appointed her old boss from her days in the recruitment business to the new Auckland Social Policy Forum.

Jane Kennelly, now director of Frog Recruitment, will be one of 29 members of the forum which was originally proposed by the royal commission on Auckland as a coordinating board for central and local government social agencies.

The forum, which meets for the first time today, has been shorn of all central government agencies except Ms Bennett's Social Development Ministry and will now meet only twice a year in secret.

Ms Bennett said its forum role would evolve but it made sense to start with her own portfolio. She did not want the public present because she did not want members to "play to the audience".

The new body's terms of reference say its purpose is to provide "strategic thinking and innovative options to improve social outcomes for the Auckland region".

But they say the "focus" will be on issues within Ms Bennett's portfolios. The agenda for tomorrow's meeting says her priorities are protecting children, young people who are not in education or employment, out-of-school care, rationalising social service contracts for each local area and letting local committees allocate state funds for local services.

The meeting will also discuss Mr Brown's priorities for the new council's role in social wellbeing and using the proposed Auckland spatial plan to make the city work better for children, youth and employment, and sports, arts and culture.

Mr Brown and Ms Bennett have agreed that each should appoint half the forum members. Mr Brown still has two vacancies on his list.

Mr Brown's list also includes people from the Maori Statutory Board and Pacific and ethnic advisory panels. But Auckland Disability Law solicitor Huhana Hickey was angry yesterday that there was no slot for a Disability Leadership Group which Mr Brown has also promised to set up.

"It is an insult to the community," she said.

A spokesman for Mr Brown said Manurewa Local Board member Colleen Brown had been appointed partly for her "understanding of and relationship with the disabled community". She chairs a resource centre for parents of disabled children.

Dr Hickey is also angry that the council has decided not to pay members of the proposed Disability Leadership Group or other non-statutory bodies such as the youth panel. The Maori, Pacific and ethnic boards are required by law and are expected to be paid.

Ms Bennett said she chose her 15 nominees to bring a wide range of skills to bear on social issues including a business perspective from people such as Ms Kennelly and Chamber of Commerce director Michael Barnett.

Ms Kennelly, who was Ms Bennett's boss when she worked at Lampen Associates before entering Parliament, chairs the Workchoice Trust which sends senior school students into workplaces for a day.

"When I spoke to Paula the key thing she said they are keen to achieve with this particular forum was she wanted real business people who could put up a very authentic and non-sanitised opinion," she said.

"I'm in and out of thousands of organisations over the course of a year and I have much to talk about around employment."


Paula Bennett, Minister of Social Development
Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland,

Bennett appointees

Sandra Alofivae, family lawyer; Richard Aston, Big Buddy; Michael Barnett, Chamber of Commerce; Linda Cooper, Western Refuge; Brian Donnelly, NZ Housing Foundation; Isabel Evans, Social Development Ministry; Jennifer Gill, ASB Community Trust; Denis Hansen, Waipareira Trust; Pete Hodkinson, Unitec student president; Jane Kennelly, Frog Recruitment; Cheryll Martin, Volunteering Auckland; Paul Mitchell, planning commissioner; Heather Shotter, Committee for Auckland; Betty Sio, Pacific Islands Safety & Prevention Project; Sharon Wilson-Davis, Strive Community Trust.

Brown appointees

Penny Hulse, Deputy Mayor; Cathy Casey, Social & Community Forum; Ann Hartley, Regional Development & Operations Cmtee; Vacant, liaison councillor; Colleen Brown, Manurewa Local Board; Tony Kake, Maori Statutory Board; Rev Uesifili UNasa, Pacific Advisory Panel; Amail Habib, Ethnic Advisory Panel; Vacant, Youth Advisory Panel; Wendy Bremner, Age Concern; Puamira Maaka, Te Waipuna Puawai; John McCarthy, Lifewise; Sandi Morrison, Arts Regional Trust; Alfred Ngaro, Tamaki Transformation Project.