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Jenny Shipley: Letter to NZ Post Lawyers

18 February 2001

Ms Jennifer Sutton
Rudd Watts and Stone
125 The Terrace
Fax 498-5001

Dear Ms Sutton,

Thank you for your letter dated 17 February 2001. Despite weeks of requests the Government and Board of New Zealand Post have not provided basic information concerning the proposed setting up of the People's Bank. It is vital that all Members of Parliament and the public have access to this information.

Two points now seem clear:

1. Although the Government has said that the bank has a focus on low-income depositors, the contrary is the case. Representations of cost savings for depositors would seem illusory.

2. Significant public monies may be put at risk if the proposal goes ahead.

If you examine the Hansard transcripts on questions relating to the bank you will find that evasive and unsatisfactory answers have been given on the proposed bank.

There is accordingly a clear public interest in the release of material, which sets out the correct position. I would have thought that New Zealand Post would not have wanted the position to be otherwise.

Material on the business case for the "people's bank" arrived unsolicited in my office on Wednesday 13 February 2001. Members of Parliament are being asked to give their support to this proposal, so there was a clear duty in the public's interest to make this information known.

When I released information on Thursday afternoon I made it absolutely clear that under no circumstances would I release information that would undermine New Zealand Post's interests as a State Owned Enterprise. I have not done so.

I received a letter from Jim Anderton on Friday 16 February requesting that I either shred or return the documents. Having made the political point about the gap between what Mr Anderton has asserted about the "people's bank" and what the business case says, I have shredded the material since I have now achieved my purpose.

Yours sincerely

Rt Hon Jenny Shipley
Leader of the Opposition

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