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Chair and Deputy Chair of Electoral Commission Appointed

Minister of Justice Andrew Little today announced that former Cabinet Secretary and Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff has been appointed as the next Chair of the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission is the agency responsible for all areas of electoral administration in New Zealand including the running of parliamentary elections and referendums, promoting compliance with electoral laws, servicing the work of the Representation Commission and providing advice, reports and public education on all electoral matters.

“Ms Shroff has a proven track record of utter neutrality in a political environment at a senior level, which is exactly what is needed in this role,” says Andrew Little.

“The constitutionally important nature of the Commission’s role means it is crucial to have a Chair who can provide strong and independent leadership. They must have good strategic planning skills, expertise in financial and risk management, the ability to operate effectively in a politically sensitive environment, and act with unquestionable personal integrity and independence. Ms Shroff exemplifies all these qualities”.

The Justice Minister also announced the appointment of Wellington barrister Jane Meares to the position of Deputy Chair of the Commission. The Deputy Chair position has been vacant following the resignation of Ms Kristy McDonald QC in April 2019.

“Ms Meares brings not only a wealth of governance experience but also excellent legal skills,” says Andrew Little.

“I would also like to thank the out-going Chair, Sir Hugh Williams. Sir Hugh was appointed as the President of the Electoral Commission in 2009 and while his term expired in February 2019 has continued in office under carry-over provisions pending the appointment of his successor.”

“Sir Hugh has provided the Electoral Commission with distinguished and highly able leadership over the past decade and I am grateful for the service he has given” Andrew Little says.

Background

The Electoral Act 1993 established the Electoral Commission as an independent Crown entity and has a constitutionally important role — Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri — as guardian of the Parliamentary electoral system.
The Commission is responsible for the administration of parliamentary elections and referenda, the allocation of time and money for the broadcast of election programmes, conduct of the Māori Electoral Option, servicing the work of the Representation Commission, the provision of advice, reports and public education on electoral matters, and electoral enrolment services for both parliamentary and local body elections.
The Commission has a board of three members comprising:
• a part-time Chairperson
• a part-time Deputy Chairperson
• a full-time Chief Electoral Officer, who is also the Chief Executive.

Appointments to the Commission are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the House of Representatives.
.

Ms Shroff is primarily associated with her role as Secretary to the Cabinet, a post she held from 1987 to 2003. She also served as the Privacy Commissioner from 2003 to 2014. Currently, she chairs the Privacy Foundation NZ, is a member of the Consumer Foundation NZ, on the board of Consumer NZ and on the Press Council. Other recent positions: Chair, Kapiti Coast District Council Community Groups, Member, IT Governance Taskforce for IITP, Chair of Officials Group on State Owned Enterprises Reform 1986/7. Ms Shroff holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Art Hons from Auckland University.

Ms Meares has been in practice as a barrister at Clifton Chambers since 2012 and was the Treasury Solicitor from November 2007 until she resigned in March 2011. She is currently the Chair of an independent Crown entity, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, a not-for-profit, FSCL, and a charity, the Ballet Foundation of New Zealand. She is also on the board of an SOE, ECNZ, two governance boards for the Department of Corrections and the UNICEF Children’s Foundation. Ms Meares has recently completed terms as chair of the Audit and Risk Committee of Parliamentary Counsel’s Office and as a member of the Corporate Trustee Services Board of Trustees Executors Ltd. She has also attended governance training with the Institute of Directors, including completing the five-day company directors’ course and presented on governance to the New Zealand Law Society.

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