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Plenty of victims in Labour attack on neutrality

Gerry Brownlee MP
National Party State Services Spokesman

21 December 2007

Plenty of victims in Labour attack on neutrality

National Party State Services spokesman Gerry Brownlee says he deeply regrets that Labour has chosen to make scapegoats of officials and others in its attempts to cover up the pressure it is applying to supposedly neutral departments.

“Clare Curran, Madeleine Setchell, Hugh Logan, Mark Prebble, Neal Cave – all these names have been linked to the series of scandals that have descended on the Environment Ministry.

“Of course, none of them would have had their names brought to public attention had it not been for Ministerial interference.

“First it was David Benson-Pope, then it was David Parker and most recently it has been Trevor Mallard. Only Mr Benson-Pope has faced any sanction from Helen Clark.”

Mr Brownlee says he remains staggered that State Services Commissioner Mark Prebble could conclude there was no inappropriate interference by the Minister David Parker in the appointment of a Labour Party activist in a key communications role.

“Clare Curran declared no conflict of interest, yet was described as David Parker’s ‘right hand woman’ and had worked for him in a political capacity. Meanwhile, Madeleine Setchell was sacked when a Minister learnt of her ‘perceived’ conflict. Helen Clark went as far as to wrongly accuse Madeleine Setchell of failing to declare her conflict. In that light, Dr Prebble’s verdict just doesn’t stack up.”

Mr Brownlee is also critical of Dr Prebble’s decision to sweep aside Trevor Mallard’s attack on whistleblower Erin Leigh.

“Parliament was told just last week that details of the information provided to Mr Mallard would form part of the SSC report. Justice Minister Annette King confirmed on December 6 that the State Services Commissioner believed Mr Mallard was entitled to draw the conclusions he did in smearing the reputation of Erin Leigh. However, the information was mysteriously missing from the SSC report.

“We had an expectation that an open examination would have allowed comparison between information provided to the Minister and his extraordinary outburst in the House.

“I would have also thought that as a guardian of public service neutrality, Dr Prebble may have had something to say about the chilling effect that sort of attack has on other public servants who might have had helpful information.”

Ends

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