Katherine Rich has been appointed to the board of the Health Promotion Agency.
For readers who think the name is familiar, Katherine Rich is an ex-MP, was once ranked fourth in the National Party caucus and is the chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council, a lobby group.
John Key is unconcerned:
"I'm comfortable that she'll be able to manage any conflict....It's important that a board has a range of different views."
At least he recognises there is a potential conflict of interest. Any conflict of interest, potential or real, could more easily be avoided by not appointing her to the board in the first place. Are we that short of suitable people in New Zealand that we have to have Katherine Rich? No.
How bad could a conflict of interest be? The HPA takes over the functions of the Alcohol and Liquor Advisory Council (ALAC), the Health Sponsorship Council (HSC) and parts of the Ministry of Health. Part of the HPA's role will involve upcoming reforms to alcohol law. Supermarkets, as major sellers of alcohol, have a vested interest in alcohol law reform, and specifically, ensuring any reforms do not reduce their profitability. So there is potential for a pretty significant conflict of interest.
Elastica - Elastica, 1995