National 5 July 2018
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 11th issue for 2018 of ASMS Direct, our national electronic publication.

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Time to say farewell – but not just yet

Having worked for ASMS since its foundation in April 1989, I have advised the National Executive of my intention to resign my position by the end of 2019. Unlike other ASMS staff, but like many members, I am required to give three months’ notice of resignation. At this stage I’ve simply given the Executive a heads-up of intent.

When we were formed, we had around 1,200 members and employed two permanent staff (including me), with a part-time lawyer on retainer. Our focus was narrowly industrial. David Lange was Prime Minister and Helen Clark Minister of Health. I only intended to stay for five years or so.

Nearly 30 years later, we have nearly 5,000 members and employ 17 permanent staff. This includes a team of seven industrial officers, as well as staff specialised in health policy, research and communications, and a support services team that provides so much of the glue that holds them together. Our unionism brief is much broader now than ‘pay and rations’ as we fight for and promote the values of an accessible, quality public health services. We now have our youngest Prime Minister and the first to give birth in office. However, we still have a Health Minister called Clark.

The reason for this lengthy walk to the exit is to allow time for the Executive and national office to consider succession planning, given the close association between ASMS and myself over the years, and to manage the transition. For example, one thing I do that my counterparts in other unions generally don’t, is collective bargaining, particularly for our major collective agreement, the DHBs’ SMO MECA. Nor do they have the same involvement as me in local activities such as the Joint Consultation Committees, which we have in each of the DHBs. The skill set of my successor may well be different from mine.

Among other things, it is hoped that the early heads up will better enable more quality applicants (internal and external) to consider putting their names forward. Part of the reason for this advance notification is to head off speculation over the next 18 months or so.

There is much I could say about my time in ASMS – many highlights and some disappointments. But all that is for another day. I will simply confine myself to expressing my appreciation for the wonderful opportunity and honour I have been gifted to work for so long for such an impressive group of dedicated, skilled and lovely people as the salaried medical and dental professions (this includes their inexhaustible supply of idiosyncrasies).


Kind regards,

Ian Powell