(image: www.bonaventure.org.uk)

(image: www.bonaventure.org.uk)

Heads must roll…

Fallout from last week’s blinding flash of the obvious, which I described as classic ‘provider capture’.
Kneecapper and straightshooter Dame Margaret Bazley found that the Legal Services Agency was being routinely rorted by lawyers and that lawyers were effectively asserting control over the legal aid system.

Four resign over scathing legal aid report

NZPA via NZ Herald | 6:20 PM Monday Nov 30, 2009

A scathing report into the state of legal aid has resulted in a cleanout of the Legal Services Agency (LSA) board.

The resignations of chairwoman Carol Durbin and board members Jane Taylor, Alister James and Dr Pare Keiha resignations were accepted by Justice Minister Simon Power today, with immediate effect.
Retired High Court judge Sir John Hansen will be the new board chairman, while the other new appointee is Wellington company director John Spencer. […] The number of board members is cut from six to four.
Mr Power said that he had written to the six board members asking “whether they were confident they had the skills for new environment” following the review headed by Dame Margaret Bazley. The four resignations followed. Mr Power thanked the four departees for their service.

Dame Margaret’s report, released on Friday, said some lawyers and defendants were “abusing the system to the detriment of clients, the legal aid system, the courts and the taxpayer”.

Artful understatement: I heard the minister on Radio NZ tonight saying (repeatedly) that all he did was write to the board members “asking if they were confident they had the skill-set required for new environment”. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

What skill-set would that be, I wonder? Ability to spot when a crook is taking you to the cleaners?? Apparently the only two members who DIDN’T take the hint were the two recent (September) appointments.

I wonder if any of those members who chose to resign will blog about the ‘Sunday tabloid style’ and lack of credibility of Dame Margaret’s report? Neh, fair cop I reckon.

Dame Margaret lectured me in Politics at Victoria University in the early 1990s — her most memorable line: “What is the main priority of a Head of Department [in the public service]? To protect your Minister!” (or words to that effect). She is an impressive intellect, very feet-on-the-ground — and very non-‘tabloid’.

In this case, as before, she has delivered what she was hired to do, IMO.