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Time For Govt To Drop The Innocent Act

The Prime Minister's 'taken by surprise' response to state sector bonus payments either indicates Government incompetence, or that we're not hearing the full story, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today. "The Government's protestations of ignorance show they are either lying, or haven't done their job properly."

"A Cabinet Committee has historically met annually to set the rules for bonuses and wage rounds in the state sector. This provides a mechanism for the Government to send signals to Chief Executives about their wage round expectations and to give a clear indication on issues such as bonus cut-off limits. The committee also sets prohibitions on practises which are not acceptable - such as paying bonuses to staff for simply enacting Government policy.

"Helen Clark must be up-front and reveal whether this Cabinet Committee did meet in 2000 under her Government. And did it provide clear directions to Chief Executives? It is her responsibility as Prime Minister to see that such guidance is given. To act surprised now is not credible.

"If it did meet then Chief Executives should have been given clear instructions on what was, and was not, acceptable for bonus payments. If that had happened then the NZQA bonus fiasco would never have occurred.

"But if the Cabinet Committee did not meet then Helen Clark needs to acknowledge that the Government has failed to do its job properly.

"If the Government has been taken by surprise then it is because they failed to do their job properly in monitoring the use of money by state agencies. The Prime Minister should expect her Ministers to be kept informed by their CEOs.

"Trevor Mallard and Steve Maharey must come clean in relation to NZQA, and Mark Gosche in relation to Housing New Zealand, as to whether they were told bonuses were being considered and if so what action they took.

"Helen Clark's tough talk as Prime Minister about preventing excess and unnecessary spending in the public sector has proven to be insincere gibberish. She has had more than a year to fix these issues and has failed to do so," Jenny Shipley said.


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