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Minister Must Reveal Timing of WINZ Payout

ACT is demanding answers on the exact timing of the secret out-of-court settlement to a senior Work and Income New Zealand manager with Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman saying the Minister's claim that the settlement was struck before the election has not been verified.

"Mr Maharey says 'knowledge of the deal was suppressed by the outgoing government' and yet the two previous Ministers have both denied any knowledge of a settlement. The question remains - who knew about this deal?

"In opposition Steve Maharey made highly public a case about a bungled WINZ dismissal as well as the charter flight debacle which eventually led to this payout. It is inconceivable that he did not question WINZ Chief Executive Christine Rankin on the case and its progress at their meeting post election.

"From the campaign Steve Maharey had been running against Christine Rankin and her Department this case would surely have topped the agenda.

"The secrecy surrounding this latest pay out of public money is totally unacceptable, as Steve Maharey would have been the first to point out in opposition. If the deal was struck before the election why can't the Minister reveal the exact date?

"The Minister's silence on the case appears to be another u-turn in his strange relationship with WINZ and its Chief Executive. First he says he has no confidence in Christine Rankin and calls for her resignation. Then, after a one hour meeting with her, changes his mind and praises her as an impressive and dedicated public servant'. Then he says a payout to a WINZ manager was struck before the election but refuses to give details of the payout of taxpayers' money.

"In the interests of open and accountable Government the Minister should clarify for the public exactly when this deal was struck what the terms were and under whose Ministerial leadership. He must also tell the public once and for all his position on Christine Rankin, will he back her or sack her?" said Muriel Newman.

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