Thank you so much for your patience.
First, the short answer to your question:
Yes, the company is legitimate.
Now the long answer:
According to the Ministry of Economic Development's New Zealand
Companies Office, Labtests Auckland, Ltd. only incorporated after it
was awarded an Auckland DHB contract - on July 14, 2006, just four and
a half months ago. It's a very shiny, very new company:
New Zealand Companies Office
Enter Company Number 1842983. You can read all of the company's
incorporation documents and obtain contact information for the
(Personally, I'd be terrified of moving to a whole other country for
what looks like a start-up. I thought moving just a mile down the
street when I bought my house to be pretty hair raising! That might
just be me, though. You might perhaps be a bit more adventurous than
More worrisome than the apparent newness of the company, however, is
that it might not be quite as shiny as one might expect a new company
You ask about the environment of the company - building, lab,
equipment, employees. It seems that these things are...vapor.
Nick Smith of the New Zealand Listener writes:
"So, Auckland, how do you feel about your new pathology service ? the
one that, uh, doesn?t have a laboratory yet?"
He goes on to discuss Labtests Auckland, Ltd.'s shortcomings -
including the astonishing lack of functioning facilities! Even more
worrisome: Tony Bierre, the Director of Labtests Auckland, Ltd.,
cannot take steps to get anything up and running. Their parent
company, Healthscope, is being sued by both Medicare Australia and
Symbion for paying kickbacks to physicians for referrals and
"anti-competitive behavior", respectively.
Testing Time * Nick Smith * The New Zealand Listener
Does Labtests Auckland *really* not have a lab? Dr. Colin
Goldschmidt, Managing Director of Sonic Healthcare, says:
"The decision to hand responsibility for all of Auckland?s community
pathology to a new company, with no infrastructure or track record in
Auckland, raises matters of grave concern. Regardless of what
expertise Healthscope may have in Australia and elsewhere, there are
serious risks to public health inherent in the establishment of such a
large and complex operation in a new facility, by a new operator, and
there is no satisfactory explanation of how Labtests will achieve
this?, he said."
Auckland Laboratory Contract Update
Pathologist Dr. Arthur Morris, of Diagnostic Medlab (DML), says:
"We have been told that Labtests Auckland has no physical facilities in the city."
He goes on to express doubts that a company with no lab and no staff -
that currently provides no services whatsoever - can be up and
properly running before July 1, 2007 - the day the Labtests Auckland
contract with the District Health Boards (DHBs) is to take effect:
"The new provider, a consortium comprising Healthscope (76.7%) and two
local based entities, will have as its chief executive Dr. Tony
Bierre. Healthscope is currently providing community laboratory
services in Whangarei while Labtests does not provide any services at
present. It is one thing to provide a service to a small provincial
centre; providing a comprehensive, quality service to a large
metropolitan centre like the Auckland region is a huge step up for any
The current Diagnostic Medlab contract runs to July 2007. In less
than 12 months, Healthscope will have to set up a laboratory,
establish a collection service, attract professional staff and
establish professional relationships with the region?s general
practitioners, specialists, midwives and other health professionals.
Healthscope also has to reach the appropriate professional
We seriously doubt that Labtests Auckland, within less than 12 months,
will be able to reproduce the intellectual capital and tailored
service systems that it has taken Diagnostic Medlab and it?s
predecessor laboratories more than 70 years to refine."
A Background Paper on the Provision of Community Laboratory Services
in the Auckland Region (From Google's Cache)
Wait...isn't that just sour grapes from the company that lost the
contract? Labtests Auckland surely has a lab, right?
Martin Johnston of the New Zealand Herald says No, they really do not have a lab:
"If an Australian-owned supermarket offered to cut your $1000 monthly
food bill to $800 while providing the same choice of bread, your
favourite bacon and queues no longer than now, you'd line up fast.
You might be curious about how they could do it so much cheaper than
the existing Australian-owned supermarket, but you wouldn't let that
stop you from planning how to spend the $200 saving.
That is what is happening in the market for non-hospital medical
laboratory tests in the Auckland region, except that the new
laboratory does not yet exist."
So...what was Labtests Auckland planing to do about a lab? It appears
he was planning to buy the already existing facilites of Diagnostic
Medlab, which previously held the government contract Dr. Bierre's
startup managed to win last summer, and will be forced to close:
"Dr Bierre hopes to buy Diagnostic's Ellerslie laboratory and to
attract staff from among his rival's 650 fulltime equivalent
Is that a viable plan? Diagnostic Medlab's chief executive says no:
"Diagnostic's chief executive, pathologist Dr Arthur Morris, says: "If
they have put a bid in on the suspicion that by buying we are going to
have a firesale, then that was an extraordinarily unwise assumption to
have made. It's not something we are contemplating or would look on
favourably as an option.""
Testing times for the medical labs * Thursday July 20, 2006 * Martin
Johnston * The New Zealand Herald
I'm just a layperson, but "put the other guy out of business, then
hope he sells his stuff" hardly sounds like a solid business plan to
me. A recent press release by Dr. Bierre confirms that the company
has no facilities yet and must create them;
"A shortlist of potential laboratory premises has been identified and
assessed, with an announcement expected soon on location and a fit-out
Labtests Auckland Team On-Track
Dr. Bierre recently acknowledged that the lab, once running, might not
initially be able to handle the volume (about 30,000 tests *daily*),
and might need to send samples to Australia, after stating in July
that samples would not leave New Zealand:
"Auckland's new laboratory company says it will consider sending
patients' samples to Australia for testing if necessary during its
start-up phase next year.
"That's an unlikely scenario. If we had to for some reason, we would
look at that," Labtests Auckland chief executive Tony Bierre said last
His comments came as the Medical Association and the College of
Pathologists renewed their criticism of the Government over what they
consider to be destabilising changes in laboratory services by at
least eight district health boards.
In July, Dr Bierre gave a public assurance about his company's
services, that "tests will be processed in New Zealand, not Australia
Lab firm may send some tests to Australia * Friday November 10, 2006 *
Martin Johnston * The New Zealand Herald
Talk of samples possibly needing to be outsourced certainly makes one
wonder about staffing.
Dr. Tony Bierre claims in a press release that the company "plans to
recruit 300 laboratory staff and around 173 support staff", but no
mention is made of how many actual staff are currently aboard.
Labtests Auckland Team On-Track
Compare this to DML's staff:
"DML is proudly New Zealand?s premier community laboratory company, which has
progressively developed into a renowned and world-class pathology practice over
decades. The company employs over 700 staff, including 37 Specialist Pathologists.
DML is highly respected by the doctors of Auckland and has outstanding
management, culture, values and professional ethic."
Auckland Laboratory Contract Update
Again, I'm only a layperson, but I'd be quite concerned about the
disparity in numbers - both the fact that Labtests Auckland appears to
be as yet unstaffed and that they intend to do the same enormous
amount of work that DML has been doing with just over half the staff
and possible outsourcing.
Something else to be concerned about is an apparent conflict of
interests. Dr. Tony Bierre sat on the Auckland DHB, one of the DHBs
that voted to give his lab the government contract. He didn't resign
until after his company was awarded the contract:
"The Auckland board has five new members: pathologist Dr Tony Bierre, [...]"
Former MPs take up positions on health boards * 02.11.2004 * MARTIN
JOHNSTON * The New Zealand Herald
Auckland Green MPs Sue Bradford and Keith Locke find this fishy:
""We also have reservations about the fact that Labtests is partly
owned by Dr Tony Bierre, who was a member of the Auckland DHB and
played a key role during early discussions about the restructuring of
lab services, actually making a presentation on the issue to the
Northern DHBs Coordinating Committee,? Ms Bradford says."
Ms. Bradford also notes the company's lack of facilities and staff:
"Labtests Auckland Limited, the company awarded the contract, has no
laboratory in Auckland city, no staff, and no track record in New
Zealand of providing lab testing services of the quantity and quality
required in our largest city."
Green MPs join Medlab debate
There is another area of concern that has come to my attention. It
seems that Dr. Bierre used to be employed by Diagnostic Medlabs, the
company he has effectively shut down, and that he filed a grievance
after his voluntary departure that failed. I'm not entirely certain
that it is important (given that details have been meager), but it
does raise a red flag in my mind.
I have yet to find much more than a few mentions of this in offhand
fashion, but expect to have more information soon. Since your
question is due to close in a couple days, I thought you might like to
have the major information germane to your query that I've already
found. This will also keep the clarification feature open so I can
report back with these last few details.
In your query, you write:
"All of this seems very worrisome. If I moved around the world and
bought a home in New Zealand with a 30-year mortgage, would I still
have a job after 8 years?"
My Opa always told me that if something looked fishy, I shouldn't wait
around for the smell.
It looks quite fishy to me. If I were in your position, I would turn
tail and RUN from this "opportunity", because the smell is coming
around the corner. That people in positions of authority are
questioning the wisdom of handing a contract to a company with no
facilities, staff or track record would be more than enough to
convince me to scroll right on by and go on to the next ad.
If I can be of further assistance, please don't hesitate to ask for a
Clarification. In the meantime, I'll try to dig up something concrete
about the rumored grievance and report back as soon as I have
something more substantial than a passing mention in a letter to the
Search terms: [ Labtests Auckland, LTD. ], [ Diagnostic Medlabs ], [
DML ], [Auckland DHB ], [ Tony Bierre ], [ Dr. Tony Bierre ], [
Labtests Auckland staffing OR facilities ]
Clarification of Answer by
14 Dec 2006 19:57 PST
Information online about Dr. Bierre's reported grievance claim against
DML is quite scanty, but a lucky break and a trusted associate have
provided a very interesting document - the judge's findings denying
Dr. Bierre's claim:
Determination - AA 11/03 (14 pages)
(You'll need Acrobat Reader to access this file.)
According to the Determination, Dr. Bierre was at one time a minority
shareholder in DML's previous incarnation, Diagnostic Laboratory. In
late 1999, Sonic Healthcare purchased Diagnostic Laboratory and placed
it under the auspices of Diagnostic Medlab, Ltd.
At the time of the purchase, all shareholders were required to enter
into new employment contracts with DML/Sonic of a minimum of 4 years,
9 months duration, which Dr. Bierre did.
In the in-between, he apparently grew dissatisfied, and tendered his
resignation in August of 2002. Diagnostic Medlab accepted the
resignation. Two days later, Dr. Bierre attempted to rescind his
resignation. DML declined to reinstate him, and enfored his chosen
resignation date of January 31, 2003.
Dr. Bierre filed a grievance complaint, claiming that DML's refusal to
allow him to rescind his resignation amounted to a constructive
dismissal. He also complained about a restraint of trade provision in
the contract that he signed, claiming unenforceability.
The judge found against him, stating that DML was well within its
rights to accept his resignation - Dr. Bierre could not claim
grievance and seek redress as submission of the resignation was of his
own volition and there is no provision in the law to force an employer
to allow a (soon to be former) employee rescind his resignation.
The judge further found that Dr. Bierre's restraint of trade provision
was in fact enforceable.
In the decision, R.A. Monaghan characterizes Dr. Bierre as
disingenuous, difficult to work with, combative, ill-prepared to
accept other points of view, unreasonable and prone to exaggeration.
The decision is rather complex. As a layperson, I don't quite know
what to make of some of the figures cited, but I find the judge's
characterization of Dr. Bierre alarming. Would I want a boss the
Bench said was "disingenuous" - a nice way of calling someone a liar?
One prone to exaggeration?
The timing of the incorporation of of Labtests Auckland now seems
suspect to me. Steps were taken to bid on the contract just two years
after Dr. Bierre left DML - precisely when the restraint of trade
provision expired. It looks suspiciously like a revenge scenario, a
lash back at the company that took him at his word when he said "I
Pathseeker, please be careful in your considerations. Moving all the
way around the world for a start-up with no facilities, staff or track
record is already a proposal fraught with peril. All of that for
someone a judge has essentially characterized as a liar and a hothead?
I will continue to search for more information regarding the
grievance. Information about the upcoming closure of DML is widely
available, but nothing says anything different from what I've noted
Please do ask if you need further assistance. I'll be happy to help.