Shipley grilled on Mainzeal role and suitability for Genesis chair

Dame Jenny Shipley

The former chairwoman of companies in the collapsed construction group Mainzeal, Dame Jenny Shipley, faced hostile questions on her suitability as chairwoman for state-owned electricity company Genesis Energy.

Appearing before the commerce select committee for a regular performance review by MPs, Dame Jenny would not answer calls from Labour's Clayton Cosgrove for assurances there was nothing relating to her Mainzeal role which could damage Genesis's reputation.

Dame Jenny and two other New Zealand-based independent directors resigned from the board of Mainzeal Property and Construction in December, and as chairwoman of Mainzeal Group just before MPC was placed in receivership on February 6.

She stonewalled similar questions at a press conference last week for the company's half-year earnings result, and was clearly anticipating Mr Cosgrove's line of questioning. She told the committee she had given no similar assurance to Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall.

As he pressed her on the issue, the former National Party prime minister replied: "I have no wish to offend Standing Orders and I am very familiar with Standing Orders, as you would expect, and relevance is a key issue here."

Committee chairman Jonathan Young came to Dame Jenny's rescue, ordering a new line of questioning, but Mr Cosgrove returned to the issue later, shocking Dame Jenny by asking whether public relations consultant Bill Ralston was being paid for by her personally or by Genesis.

Mr Ralston has issued statements for the former Mainzeal independent directors.

"Genesis is not paying for any private services for myself," she said with a gasp.

She also told the committee there had been discussions on the dual-listing of partially privatised state-owned enterprises at a meeting between several SOE chairs and Treasury officials.


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I care nothing for the politics that may be at play.
Purely on the basis that Mainzeal is a pretty big black mark against the then incumbent directors and the very convenient bailing out from what we now know was a sinking ship, I am less than impressed.
I do not believe that she is suitable for the role with Genesis as cosy as her invitation probably was.


Nice sidestep Jenny.


I guess if you have the public profile then you take the heat.


Shipley never had the wherewithal to be a business leader. Standing in front of a class of primary school kids, most definitely. But she had no business being in business.


I cant seem to remember one decent ex-politican who was an outstanding director.
Can someone enlighten me with a name?




The Mainzeal issues regarding compliance (if reports are correct) is nothing short of a disgrace and those steering the company need to front up.


If CEOs are shown the door when the company doesnt perform, then so should the Chair of the Board, regardless of gender, and regardless of whether he or she was / is an ex-PM !


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