Gross interference leads to golden handshake
National Local Government Spokesperson
6 August 2000
Gross Ministerial interference leads to golden handshake
"A scandalous degree of interference from the highest levels of Cabinet has caused a complete breakdown in the much lauded 'partnership' between the Government and Local Government New Zealand," National's Murray McCully said today.
"The person bearing the brunt of that breakdown is LGNZ Chief Executive Carol Stigley, who has been driven out of her job.
"However ratepayers around New Zealand are also the victims, as they will pick up the bill for Ms Stigley's golden handshake, which may reach six figures.
"Ms Stigley's 'resignation' will be announced in a carefully and politely worded 'damage control' letter which is being mailed to all local bodies and should arrive tomorrow (Monday). But anyone who believes the departure was amicable is living in cloudcuckooland.
"Accounts which I have received detail a pattern of improper interference by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Local Government Minister Sandra Lee.
"Ms Stigley's resignation is the culmination of a series of events in which LGNZ sought the intervention of the Prime Minister and senior ministers to help manage its dysfunctional relationship with Sandra Lee.
"I intend to ask questions in Parliament this week which will raise serious doubts about whether it is appropriate for Ms Lee to retain her Ministerial Warrant.
"I want to know why Carol Stigley was regarded as so competent that on Wednesday 14th June this year she was given 100 percent of her performance bonus and a 5 percent payrise. But the next day she was advised to contact her lawyer as her job was on the line. I want to know whether anyone in the Government had a hand in this curious chain of events.
"It is clear that despite Helen Clark's talk of 'a new era' the Government does not want LGNZ to be a partner, it wants it to be a lackey.
"Miss Clark went to great pains in March this year to create the impression that she had entered a new era of co-operation with LGNZ. But the information I have received blows that pretence to smithereens.
"LGNZ President Louise Rosson, a Labour party stalwart from way back, has done everything possible to appease Miss Clark and Sandra Lee, a Minister who has overstepped the boundaries of Ministerial Responsibility. The end result is that the organisation's Chief Executive has been needlessly and unjustly driven out of her job.
"There's something rotten in the state of relations between Government and local bodies. I intend to expose that," Mr McCully said.