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Appointment Questioned

Appointment Questioned

Monday 1 Mar 2004 Ken Shirley Press Releases -- Other

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley today expressed reservations over the Labour Government's appointment of former Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Head Mark Prebble to the position of Commissioner for State Services.

"In practice, the Commissioner is the employee for all Government department heads. As such, he is responsible for their performance, and the maintenance of ethical standards in our public service," Mr Shirley said.

"The State sector reforms of the 1980's, undertaken by Sir Roger Douglas, helped transform the New Zealand economy. Regrettably, however, the Labour Government is retreating from those reforms and reverting to the old-style public service.

"During Michael Wintringham's term as State Services Commissioner, and Mr Prebble's time as DPMC Head, a number of controversies developed involving them both. The Christine Rankin affair exposed some odd behaviour and comment, which didn't reflect well.

"The Corngate episode revealed that Mark Prebble had wrongly withheld papers sought under the Official Information Act and admitted that he erred in judgement when the Prime Minister claimed she had no knowledge of those papers being withheld.

"It is clear that Labour will continue to challenge the State Services Commission's independence, and the regressive politicisation of Government departments should be of concern to the entire country.

"It is particularly clear to all that Treasury has been tamed, and - having completely lost its zeal for the promotion of free market policies - is now a cheerleader for the Labour Government's interventionist agenda. The Secretary of Treasury is, in fact, a former member of the Labour Party Research Unit.

"Mr Mark Prebble will face enormous pressures in his new role and his very close association with the Prime Minister, as former head of her department, will add to that challenge," Mr Shirley said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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