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Labour's Year of Living Dangerously

Latest resignation marks Labour's Year of Living Dangerously

Hone Harawira, Climate Change Spokesperson for the Maori Party

Thursday 20 December 2007

Climate Change spokesperson for the Maori Party, Hone Harawira, today expressed dismay at learning of the latest scapegoat, Environment boss Hugh Logan, to fall casualty to Labour's fixation with seeing the public service as another arm of the Labour Party.

"The impacts of global warming and climate change are some of the most fundamental issues looming on our horizon" said Mr Harawira.

"We desperately need institutional knowledge, policy expertise and the dedicated commitment of our public service to be totally focused on ways to make substantial progress".

"Instead, it would appear to most New Zealanders that there's been little of this work going on, because of all of the distractions" said Mr Harawira.

"The only interest has seemed to be who was hired and fired in the Ministry of Environment, what their political leanings are and who is pulling all the strings" said Mr Harawira.

"The political neutrality of the public service must be sacrosanct" said Mr Harawira.

"Resignations, public statements of apology, SSC investigations and all of the media hype would all be unnecessary if rules were properly followed in the first place".

"We would hope that the public service can regain its former reputation by fiercely guarding the values of political neutrality and avoiding being drawn into the trap set by those seeking political interference".

"The State Services Commissioner's report released this afternoon, noting the perception of a possible breach of neutrality is a major warning for all departmental heads to take seriously".

"As the 2008 election looms ahead, we urge the Labour Government to take a hard look at themselves in this year of fatal mistakes" said Harawira. "Clearly there are lessons to be learnt about the ways they communicate with the public service over management and employment practices, in order to prevent yet more cases of political meddling".

"We well remember the cost that political interference had in 2005 in the case of Amokura Panoho" said Mr Harawira.

Background

* Hugh Logan's resignation this morning as Chief Executive of the Ministry of Environment, follows the resignation of former Minister David Benson-Pope; the controversies associated with Madeline Setchell, Erin Leigh and Clare Curren, the mistakes made by Dr Prebble, the public falls from grace of Ministers Trevor Mallard and David Parker and the State Services Commission inquiries.

* Amokura Panoho settled the defamation action she took against Education Minister Trevor Mallard and former associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere in March 2005 for comments they made about her leaving her Labour Department job in July 2004. Both Mr Mallard and Mr Tamihere agreed to pay Ms Panoho's legal costs and publicly withdraw their claims.

ENDS

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