An induction seminar was held on the 18th and 19th March 2020 for all first time Directors recently appointed by Cabinet to serve on the Boards of Public Bodies. Thirty One (31) new Directors were on hand to listen to presentations by the Chief Executive Officer and senior members of the Ministry’s Governance Division on a Director’s legal mandate, what was expected of them in accordance with the legislations governing their appointments and some of the key policy directives put in place by Cabinet that they needed to be aware of. Ms Elita To’oala Chief Executive Officer congratulated them on their recent appointments and acknowledged the depth of knowledge and experience they were bringing, which would only add value to the oversight role Boards played in the performance of Public Bodies.
One of the reoccurring discussion points was on a Director’s ‘Duty of Care’ and some of the practical challenges they would face when it comes to ‘acting in good faith’ and ‘acting in the best interest’ of the public body. “Yes there will be times when the Board will be instructed by Cabinet to do something that will have financial implications for your organisations. While the Act requires you to comply with policy directives issued on behalf of the Shareholding Ministers, your duty of care is to inform Cabinet of the implications this decision while have on the corporation. At the end of the day Cabinet has the final say but you have acted in the best interest of the public body by bringing to their attention the impact it will have” (Manua Dr Cam Wendt, ACEO Public Bodies Governance Division).
The sessions closed with a presentation by Ms Jacinta Maua-Tupuola (Principal Policy Analyst) on the duties and responsibilities of Directors and a word of assurance from Ms To’oala that the Ministry stood ready to provide them whatever support they need to be effective in their new roles.