Embattled Te Whatu Ora - Health NZ chair Rob Campbell has said discussions between himself and the Government about his future are still ongoing.
Campbell said he “can’t comment” about the negotiations right now but he could comment “when we finish the discussions”.
He confirmed to the Herald they were still ongoing.
Campbell is in trouble for a LinkedIn post slamming National’s Three Waters policy accusing the party of blowing the “dog whistle on co-governance”.
He also personally attacked National’s leader writing: “Christopher Luxon might be able to rescue his party from stupidity on climate change but rescuing this from a well he has dug himself might be harder.”
Crown Entity board members are bound by a code of conduct which requires them to act in a politically neutral way, which would not prejudice them from working with future governments.
On Monday, Campbell was unrepentant. Pulled up for his remarks by a fellow LinkedIn user, Campbell replied “Lol. I don’t have political masters (or mistresses for that matter)”.
It appears Campbell’s political masters disagree and got in touch with Campbell to say so.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told the AM Show on Tuesday morning that ministers had been in touch with Campbell over the last 24 hours.
As a Crown Entity director, Campbell is appointed directly by and responsible to ministers. His responsible Ministers are Health Minister Ayesha Verrall, and Environment Minister David Parker, who is responsible for the Environment Protection Authority.
Verrall spoke to Campbell on Monday night, Parker spoke to him on Tuesday Morning.
Hipkins would not express confidence in Campbell and said there was an ongoing process.
He said there was currently a “natural justice issue” which prohibits him from speaking further.
Hipkins has himself described the remarks as “inappropriate”.
“Some of the public commentary that he has made steps well outside of the politically neutral stance that we would expect,” Hipkins said.
He said Campbell’s comments “fell well outside” what was appropriate.
Hipkins said this was not the first time Campbell had been in trouble about impartiality.
He said Campbell had been spoken to after publicly backing Chlöe Swarbrick’s members’ bill to ban alcohol sponsorship in sports and give local councils power over alcohol sales in their areas.
The National Party’s public service spokesman Simeon Brown said the remarks were “appalling”.
“We’re of the view that it is completely inappropriate for a senior public servant, the chair of our Health Agency, to be making these comments,” he said.
“These appear on the fact of it to be in breach of the clear rules on political impartiality for senior public servants.
“He should clearly be focused on his day job which is fixing our broken health system,” Brown said.
National was backed up by likely coalition partner Act - leader David Seymour described the post as a “rant”.
Seymour said: “Labour has politicised the public service by putting Campbell in charge of Health NZ and he needs to pull his head in or resign”.
Seymour went on to say the incident was the “tip of the iceberg” of eroding political neutrality.
“Much of the Wellington bureaucracy is openly sympathetic to the left and that is a real concern.
“A politically neutral public service that can carry out the policies of governments of all colours is critical,” he said.