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Appointment: Acting Commissioner of Inland Revenue

Monday, 20 March 2000

Media statement from the State Services Commissioner

Appointment of acting Commissioner of Inland Revenue

The State Services Commissioner, Michael Wintringham, announced today the appointment of John Perham as acting Commissioner of Inland Revenue and chief executive of the Inland Revenue Department. Mr Perham is currently a deputy secretary in the Department of Treasury and Finance in Victoria, Australia. He was previously the chief executive of the New Zealand National Provident Fund. Mr Perham has substantial experience as a company director in the public and private sectors.

Mr Perham will be the acting Commissioner of Inland Revenue for several months, probably until early next year.

Advertising for a permanent appointment at Inland Revenue will begin in the second half of this year. Mr Wintringham said his aim was to have a new, permanent Commissioner of Inland Revenue working in the department early in 2001.

The current Commissioner, Graham Holland, is leaving to take up an international consultancy role in revenue and taxation. Mr Holland has served a five-year contract as Commissioner.

Mr Wintringham said the extended appointment of an acting Commissioner had been prompted by two main factors:

* a desire to allow the public environment around Inland Revenue to stabilise; and

* the desire of the newly-elected Government to consider carefully the job requirements for a new, permanent Commissioner.

"On the first count - the public environment around the department - I have to take into account the criticism and controversy which has surrounded Inland Revenue during the last two years.

"Much of that criticism has been over-stated or unjustified. Generally, the criticism has failed to acknowledge the dedication and effort of four thousand people who work in Inland Revenue.

"Nonetheless, I have to take into account the public environment in laying the groundwork for a permanent appointment.

"Part of my aim in appointing an acting Commissioner for an extended period is to provide a breathing space - for the department and its senior management team - before a permanent appointment is considered.

"I hope that the public environment will stabilise during that period."

Mr Wintringham said he was also providing the newly-elected Government with time to consider the job requirements for a permanent appointee.

"Within days of coming into office, the Government was faced with a vacancy in one of the biggest and most complex jobs in the State sector.

"The Commissioner of Inland Revenue runs one of the largest operational departments, he or she exercises considerable independent, statutory power, and has oversight of the largest share of the Government's revenue base."

Mr Wintringham said that did not signal plans for immediate change in the definition of the Commissioner's role. "It is an acknowledgement that the department faces some major challenges and that the Commissioner's role will be difficult to fill.

"Overall, my aim in appointing an acting Commissioner for an extended period is to provide immediate stability at Inland Revenue after Mr Holland's departure, and to allow the Government time to contemplate what will be a tough brief in making a permanent appointment."

Mr Wintringham said he had chosen Mr Perham to take the acting role for two main reasons:

* he has diverse experience over 15 years in managing public sector organisations; and

- he has been working in Australia for the last five years, so that he is independent from the public controversy that has surrounded Inland Revenue.

"Mr Perham has worked as a chief executive, as a board chairperson, and as a director in organisations in the public and private sectors in New Zealand and Australia," Mr Wintringham said.

"He has been the chief executive of a Public Service department - the National Provident Fund - and he has worked as a senior advisor to government in Victoria.

"Mr Perham also has the credibility and sound reputation that comes from 30 years of working in business, government, and the community.

"Mr Perham's brief is to maintain a steady-state at Inland Revenue. He will not be undertaking major initiatives in the department's management, structure, or operations."

Mr Perham was the chief executive of the National Provident Fund between 1988 and 1995. He has worked in the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance - where he has been responsible for commercial policy and projects - since April 1995. He is resigning from his job in Victoria to return to New Zealand.

Before he moved to Victoria, Mr Perham was a member of the board of the Canterbury Health Crown health enterprise, and a trustee of the Victoria University Foundation.

In the 1980s, he worked in senior roles in merchant banking and in stock-broking. Between 1982 and 1984, he was the chairman of Francis Allison Symes and Co. Mr Perham has been the chairperson of Coal Corporation, the DFC, and the Greenstone Fund, a venture capital fund that the Government established in conjunction with private sector lenders in the mid-1990s.

He is a fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Institutes of Management, and a fellow of the Australian Institute of Public Administration.

While he is the acting Commissioner, Mr Perham will be paid at a rate similar to that which is being paid for the Commissioner's role now.

Mr Wintringham said that under Mr Holland, Inland Revenue had implemented the Richardson review, built up its policy advice capability, and carefully managed major improvements in its information technology. Mr Holland has also overseen changes under which many wage and salary earners will no longer have to file a tax return.

"Under Mr Holland and his senior management team, Inland Revenue has made considerable progress in initiatives to make the department more responsive to citizens and more accessible."

Mr Perham will take up the acting role on 1 May. In the five weeks between when Mr Holland leaves - on 27 March - and 1 May, Robin Oliver, the general manager of policy at Inland Revenue, will perform the roles of Commissioner and departmental chief executive.


Further information: Owen Gill, State Services Commission, ph 495 6609.

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