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Bill To End Secret Payouts Before Parliament


Bill To End Secret Payouts Before Parliament

Wednesday 24th May 2000
Dr Muriel Newman
Media Release -- Governance & Constitution

Parliament will today debate a Bill from ACT MP Muriel Newman to end secret payouts to civil servants.

Secret settlements to 481 public servants have cost taxpayers $9.2 million over the last five years supporting Dr Newman’s call for a law change. The State Sector (Disclosure of Financial Settlements) Amendment Bill will ensure there are no more secret payouts in the public service, although the Bill does enable the name of the person receiving the payout to remain confidential.

Since the Bill was drawn from the Members Ballot in April, Dr Newman has asked all Ministers to give her the cost and number of secret settlements over the last five years, in the government agencies over which they have Ministerial responsibility. She says the 481 secret settlements are only the tip of the iceberg because they do not cover health authorities, schools, a number of Crown Entities, State Owned Enterprises and two of the largest government departments, the IRD and WINZ. The Crown Research Institutes had the highest number of secret payouts at 129. While Arts, Culture and Heritage had the highest cost of payouts at $895,000. Muriel Newman said some Ministers couldn’t obtain the information on time. “The Minister of Maori Affairs said he needed another six weeks. The Minister of Social Services and Employment originally wanted more time, but then finally refused to answer. Revenue also refused to answer - the IRD, a department which has the power to scrutinise the lives of New Zealand taxpayers, wasn’t prepared to tell taxpayers anything at all,” she said. The State Sector (Disclosure of Financial Settlements) Amendment Bill, amends the State Sector Act to require all government organisations covered by the Act to disclose the terms of any financial settlement made when an employee leaves. “The catalyst for this Bill was the inappropriate use of a secret settlement by WINZ CEO Christine Rankin as a smokescreen to prevent the Social Services Select Committee from correctly probing details relating to the charter flight blunder of last year. The cost of the fall-out from that incident has been estimated at $700,000. However, it is now clear that the consequences of that secret settlement have become much more serious. This whole issue has cost the Minister of Social Services and Employment, his effectiveness as the Minister of WINZ,” she said. “Labour and the Alliance have been outspoken on secret settlements to public servants. On May 15 the Prime Minister stated that “secret payouts by government agencies were unacceptable”. As a result of that concern, I expect the Government to support this Bill to a Select Committee for further consideration and public consultation to deal with once and for all the issue of secret settlements in the public sector,” said Muriel Newman.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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