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Transparency needed over $750,000 research grant

Wyatt Creech National MP

18 March 2001

Transparency needed over $750,000 research grant to PM's husband

National Member of Parliament Wyatt Creech has renewed his efforts to achieve full disclosure over a $750,000 research grant to a team lead by the Prime Minister's husband, Peter Davis.

"I first wrote to the Health Research Council in August 2000, asking why it approved such a large grant for research into National's health reforms to a team led by Helen Clark's husband. The one reply I received didn't answer my concerns satisfactorily. I also sought under the Official Information Act all papers and memos relating to the awarding of this grant. Still nothing has been released. This week I have again written to the Council urging it to release this information.

"Revelations during the past week over Peter Davis' role in the appointment of his friend Dr Joel Lexchin to a high paying consultancy job make it now more important than ever that this information should be made public. The Prime Minister has effectively acknowledged that Prof Davis' actions over Dr Lexchin created the impression of an inappropriate use of his position; she described it as a 'mistake' and instructed him never to send emails via her office again.

"I advised the Council that it was inappropriate for research into the public health system reforms between 1988 and 1999 to be carried out by the husband of the Prime Minister; a leading opponent of the National's reforms. This raises a conflict of interest as it would be hard for him to conclude the reforms instituted by his wife were bad or that National's reforms were good. This cannot help but raise doubt over the impartiality of the findings in this report.

"In addition Labour's current health reforms mean the findings of the report will be largely redundant by the time it is released in 2002 or 2003.

"The Health Research Council should release the information it holds. Given the recent revelations, the Government should check and if found release any emails or correspondence on this subject which may have passed through ministerial offices prior to the awarding of this grant," Wyatt Creech said.


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