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Greens call for inquiry over Ministers' behaviour

6 August, 2004

Greens call for inquiry over Ministers' behaviour

Green MP Metiria Turei today called for the Maori Affairs select committee to conduct an inquiry into the recent accusations by Labour Government ministers against a Maori public servant.

Metiria, the Green Party's Maori Affairs spokesperson, said she hoped the inquiry would implement a Minister's code-of-conduct to ensure there would be no repeat of John Tamihere's bullying of former Labour department employee Amokura Panoho because of her links to the Maori Party.

"This is a disgraceful episode that has cost a hardworking employee her job," said Metiria. "I would expect the two Ministers involved to be reprimanded at the very least for their heavy-handed and false accusations.

"Ms Panoho did nothing wrong or improper but has resigned because false allegations were made public."

Metiria warned that Mr Tamihere's actions, and those of other Labour Government ministers, posed a threat to the quality and viability of the public service.

"The way the Government has behaved has had a chilling effect on democracy," she said. "Public servants, whatever their colour or creed, are entitled to be members of political parties.

"There's a serious inconsistency in the Government's behaviour when, according to their biographies, four of the five Maori members of Cabinet have worked in the public service prior to becoming MPs. They can't fool anyone that they were apolitical prior to becoming MPs.

"So is this a case of one rule for Labour and another for other political parties?

"In this case, the Government's message to Maori public servants is clear: deny your rights to being a citizen or forget about a job working for New Zealand," she said.


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