State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has today announced the appointment of Michael Heron QC to investigate allegations made against former staff members of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).
Allegations have been made that these former employees of CERA used their Public Service positions to advance their private business interests. The State Services Commissioner announced that these allegations would be the subject of a State Sector Act investigation on 1 February 2017.
Michael Heron is a Queen's Counsel and former Solicitor-General. He has extensive legal experience, including as a Crown Prosecutor and advisor to a wide range of government agencies on complex commercial and litigation issues. Mr Heron carried out an investigation into three fisheries compliance operations for the Director-General of Primary Industries in 2016.
"I am very pleased to appoint Mr Heron, said Mr Hughes. "He is a respected barrister and solicitor, an experienced investigator and a highly regarded former senior Public Servant."
Mr Heron's appointment is effective immediately.
"I have asked Mr Heron to provide me with an interim report by the end of February," Mr Hughes said.
The State Sector Act grants extensive powers of inquiry to the State Services Commissioner or their delegate. This includes the legal power to require the production of any records, files or other information, require government employees to answer questions and enter government premises.
The State Services Commission will provide secretarial support and arrange any additional resources or advice the investigation may require.
The Terms of Reference for the investigation are below.
The Inquiry will investigate:
any actual or perceived conflicts of interest of the former CERA staff members, during their employment at CERA or their subsequent State services employment or governance roles in the State services;
the management of any such conflicts of interest by the relevant individuals and State services agencies;
any other related matter arising from the course of the investigation that ought to be considered to provide the State Services Commissioner with a complete report.