Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier asked to come back after resigning over age rule

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier.
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier. Photo credit: Getty Images

Story by RNZ

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has been asked to continue in his role - despite the law saying he must resign at age 72.

Boshier's 72nd birthday was in March, and he told MPs at a select committee - where he was presenting reports on prisons - he had resigned in accordance with the law.

However, he said he had received a report from the Offices of Parliament Select Committee on Wednesday, and advice from the Clerk and the Speaker.

The report said while his resignation had been accepted, there was the ability under Section 5 of the Ombudsmen Act for someone who had resigned to not cease carrying out their duties until a replacement is found.

Boshier told RNZ he was loving the job and did not feel his age was a factor.

"I've resigned, I've been asked to stay on. Can I just say I feel on top of my game and as fit as ever, but the law is the law and if that needs to change that's really not a matter for me," he said.

"The only reason I mention my loving of the job and my feeling of how good it is, is that age doesn't seem to be a factor that might depend so much in how you're placed at the time to do the job - and I feel pretty good about that at the moment."

He said he thought it would take Parliament a while to find a replacement in the role.

"In an ideal world there would perhaps be a greater sense of continuity, but to be fair there was an election, there was a change of government, 16th of March was my birthday as most of the country knew and I think the timing of it has just been a little difficult.

"The holder of this position has got to have a number of important attributes and I think it will take a while for them to settle on someone who they feel has got those attributes."

Some commentators have raised concerns the law requiring ombudsmen to resign is discriminatory. Boshier said whether a law change was needed was not for him to say.

However, he had told the MPs he thought his continuing in the role meant "I should continue to act exactly as you'd expect me to - so I am going to be pretty direct today about some of these matters".

Boshier told RNZ he would not shrink from his duties.

"It is what it is, and as I said to the select committee this morning, I'm not going to sit there as a caretaker and shrink back - I will say what I want to say for the good fo the country as and when required."