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Swain still shielding the Goon bosses

Brian Connell National MP

3 November 2003

Swain still shielding the Goon bosses

"We want an independent inquiry, not a tame one, Minister," said Brian Connell, MP for Rakaia and Law & Order Select Committee member.

His comments followed Corrections Minister Paul Swain's announcement that the State Services Commissioner would conduct an investigation into the activities of the Emergency Response Unit, better known as 'the Goon Squad.'

"National and Act deserve a pat on back for their work so far in pushing for an inquiry. We forced the Minister to recognise this cover-up had become untenable and that answers were needed.

"I hope that, while the State Services Commission is answerable to a Minister, the Government stays out of this review.

"I suspect the Commission will come under a great deal of pressure not to delve too deeply. Rightly or wrongly, there will be a public perception that this has not been a genuine inquiry.

"The Minister knows that a genuine independent inquiry would not be answerable to Labour - that's why he blocked the Law & Order Select Committee investigation. An inquiry that he can't control is the last thing he wants.

"Until we have a real inquiry, the blame will continue to rest unfairly on the Goon Squad members alone, rather than being laid at the doorsteps of the Managers who instituted and oversaw it. Labour has let the little guys take the fall for this.

"If Paul Swain is genuinely after the truth, he must also provide a Ministerial guarantee that Corrections employees who come forward will receive full protection. Otherwise they'll remember the fate of Maureen Love, the first investigator who was unwilling to let the matter drop. For her efforts she's now working elsewhere.

"Until the truth is uncovered, public confidence won't be restored and the Department cannot move on," Mr Connell said.

Ends

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