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Govt Black Belt In Hypocrisy Over Rankin

National MP Murray McCully has accused the Government of "earning a black belt in hypocrisy", over criticism of WINZ chief executive Christine Rankin for threatening legal action against Green MP Sue Bradford.

Mrs Rankin was rebuked in Parliament yesterday by Social Services Minister Steve Maharey, who stated that there was a convention that Ministers should be kept informed and that he should have been 'kept informed' of this type of activity.

"Just where was Mr Maharey when I needed his help two weeks ago in questioning New Zealand Post's decision to lodge proceedings against ACT leader Richard Prebble? SOE Minister Mark Burton told Parliament that he was not consulted, and was not even informed of the decision to send Mr Prebble a writ until after it had been made. He told Parliament he did not expect to be informed.

"But the same 'no surprises' convention which applies to senior public servants also applies to SOEs, and for exactly the same reason. Ministers, who are accountable for the actions of Departments or SOE's which report to them can hardly be expected to be held responsible in Parliament, or in the media, unless they are kept fully briefed on matters which are likely to draw public attention.

"The Government decided to suspend that convention with regard to New Zealand Post because it was politically convenient for them to maintain that they knew nothing about the craven and mind-blowingly stupid decision to attempt to gag Richard Prebble.

"But now it is politically convenient for the Government, from the Prime Minister down, to pretend that Christine Rankin's decision to overlook the convention that they were so happy to ignore just two weeks ago is a large and serious breach of public sector protocol. The fact Government Ministers can keep straight faces while they engage in such hypocrisy suggests that they really do believe that they can make up the rules as they go along," Murray McCully said.


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