The Opposition Democratic Party is demanding transparency from the Public Service Commission and the Office of the Prime Minister over the number of applications received for a number of recently advertised senior government roles.
The selection process for the positions of Police
Commissioner, Secretary of Health and Public Service Commissioner is currently
In a statement, Opposition Public Service spokesperson
William (Smiley) Heather said the public had the right to know how many
applications were received for each of the top posts, and how many have been
“It will give the public an idea how big a pool of
candidates there was to choose from for those jobs,” Heather said.
Office of the Prime Minister last week said information on
how many people applied for the Police Commissioner’s role “is not available”.
Public Service Commissioner Russell Thomas earlier said he was “yet to receive
the information of all the applications” for the Secretary of Health role.
Heather said the Opposition also wants Public Service
Commission and the Office of the Prime Minister to state how widely the jobs
were advertised and on which platforms.
“If those jobs haven’t been advertised as widely as possible
to attract candidates of excellent calibre, then the people responsible for
recruitment, PSC, OPM and Cook Islands Investment Corporation haven’t done
their job properly,” he said.
“If selection has been confined to a very small pool of
candidates, the government hasn’t done these positions, departments, staff or
the tax-paying public any favours.”
Heather said the government must not settle for candidates
who don’t meet the full requirements for top government positions.
If the calibre of applicants isn’t up to standard, then the
search for suitably qualified persons for the country’s most senior positions
must continue, he added.
“The time for receiving applications has to be extended and
where the positions are being advertised expanded,” said the Ruaau MP.
Referring to the posts of Health Secretary and Police
Commissioner currently needed permanent appointments, Heather said the public
needs to know and be reassured that the very best applicants will be chosen for
the two jobs.
“Telling our people that a secretary of Health needs to only
be a good administrator is foolish.”
The Opposition has stated a Secretary of Health does not
need to be a doctor, but unconditionally needs to be someone with a background
in health management and health administration.
“It is a highly specific job; it will be dealing with a
global pandemic and the country’s response preparedness. It will be dealing
with major national health problems, the staggering prevalence of NCD’s (non
communicable diseases). About three years ago, the nation was told that obesity
has reached epidemic proportions according to Health secretary Dr Aumea Herman.
The situation hasn’t improved.
“The person who gets appointed secretary of Health must have a solid background in health to be able to handle these responsibilities. Both Herman and former health secretary Elizabeth Iro had medical backgrounds and considerable administrative experience.
Iro holds a Masters in Business Administration and, like Dr Herman, was continuously upskilling until she was appointed to take over as Chief Nursing Officer with WHO (World Health Organization).”