Former cabinet secretary appointed as Electoral Commission chair

by Duffie Osental10 Aug 2019

Former cabinet secretary and privacy commissioner Marie Shroff has been appointed as the next chairperson of the New Zealand Electoral Commission, replacing outgoing chair Sir Hugh Williams.

Shroff was cabinet secretary from 1987 to 2003.  She also served as the privacy commissioner from 2003 to 2014 and currently chairs Privacy Foundation NZ. She is also a member of Consumer Foundation NZ and is on the board of Consumer NZ.

“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,” said Justice Minister 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.”

In announcing Shroff’s appointment, Little also acknowledged the services of her predecessor.

“I would also like to thank the outgoing chair, Sir Hugh Williams,” he said. “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.”

The justice minister also announced the appointment of Wellington barrister Jane Meares as deputy chair of the Electoral Commission – a position that has been vacant following the resignation of Kristy McDonald in April 2019.

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