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Rankin Must Come Back With Answers

WINZ Chief Executive Christine Rankin today ducked answering any questions from ACT’s Muriel Newman on whether or not she was misled by a staff member over the WINZ charter flight debacle, saying she needed to seek advice before answering.

ACT’s Social Welfare Spokesman put the questions to Ms Rankin when the Chief Executive appeared before Parliament’s Social Services Select Committee today for the Financial Review of the Department of Work and Income New Zealand.

Muriel Newman said full responsibility for the $165,000 charter flight debacle had never been established and Ms Rankin should have been prepared to set the record straight – either she was misled or she was not.

“The truth over this matter has never been established, because the senior staff member who had been blamed, resigned saying she had been used as a ‘scapegoat’, and brought a personal grievance claim against WINZ.. Both the Auditor General and the State Services Commissioner who investigated the incident left the issue of management responsibility and accountability alone, believing it would be made clear in the Employment Court ruling. The day in court never eventuated because the claim was settled in secrecy, with a reported $100,000 pay out and an apology from Ms Rankin. That secret deal is now being used as a smokescreen to stop the truth coming out.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that Parliament cannot get to the bottom of this issue because of a secret employment settlement. The cost to the taxpayer of this incident has been huge and full responsibility must be assigned – either Ms Rankin was misled, or she misled the government.

“What is also unacceptable is the Minister’s silence on this issue. Before the election he was determined to establish whether or not Ms Rankin was misled. Now that he’s the Minister he’s done another flip-flop and gone all quiet. Yet the public deserve to know the truth.

“Under questioning, Ms Rankin assured the Committee that she will provide a written answer to clarify the issue of culpability and to provide the total amount WINZ has spent on this debacle including the full cost of legal advice. I look forward to receiving Ms Rankins answers, so that this whole unfortunate incident can be put to rest: either Ms Rankin will finally be cleared of any suspicion, or she will have to take full responsibility for misleading the Government”, Muriel Newman said.

ends

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