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Hide To Test Parliament's Confidence In Bathgate

Sunday 2 Dec 2001

ACT Finance Spokesman MP Rodney Hide today attacked the cosy and secret deal that saw Ms Bathgate last week suddenly resign from the Employment Relations Authority in return for holding on to her other warrants and keeping John Upton's report secret.

"Minister Margaret Wilson campaigned against secret deals and here we see her involved in yet another sleazy one in an attempt to protect her friend, dinner chum and personal appointment to the Employment Relations Authority.

"Ms Wilson has egg all over her face because she personally intervened to get Ms Bathgate appointed to the Employment Relations Authority. She should front up to New Zealanders who pay her and Ms Bathgate's salaries. It is impossible for Ms Bathgate to be unfit for one warrant, but fit for the other two.

"I have been inundated with complaints about Ms Bathgate's work on the Complaints Review Tribunal, the Social Security Appeal Authority, and the Employment Relations Authority. The main complaint is that she was too busy to hear cases or deliberate properly. That's not surprising - she was doing five government jobs at once and claiming the same hours twice over.

"Ms Wilson believes it to be okay for Ms Bathgate to retain her warrants for the Complaints Review Tribunal and the Social Security Appeal Authority. If that's the case, she should have no hesitation in publicising the report of John Upton QC that followed my complaint about Ms Bathgate. How else can people appearing before Ms Bathgate have confidence in her - or for that matter, in the Attorney General?

"Minister Wilson herself has said that she is `conscious of the need for the conduct of those holding office with judicial functions to be beyond reproach'. By her own standards, she has no option but to make public John Upton QC's report.

"I will this week test whether Parliament has confidence in Ms Bathgate keeping her warrants. I will be moving a notice of motion that will enable MPs to vote yes or no to Ms Bathgate keeping her remaining warrants. I will also be seeking an urgent debate on Minister Wilson's handling of this disastrous affair," Mr Hide said.


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