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Big department pay-out needs explaining

Big department pay-out needs explaining

Social development Minister Paula Bennett is side-stepping questions over a $97,000 taxpayer-funded ‘termination benefits’ paid out by her department, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“Responding to questions today Ms Bennett refused to say whether Janet Grossman, Work and Income’s former chief executive who left in June after only months in the job, was effectively asked to leave.

“Ms Grossman was head-hunted for the position and her role included overseeing the self-service kiosks at the centre of a major security breach.

“Ms Bennett’s remarkable act of dodge the question today was in direct contrast to her performance in June, when she seemed happy to answer questions about Ms Grossman, who left Work and Income just two days after handing in her ‘resignation’ and just 11 months after taking up the post.

“When asked about the cause of Grossman's departure then, Ms Bennett said ‘her husband has had job opportunities in the UK and she wishes to return back there. That is the reason for it’.

“However the Ministry of Social Development has since released its annual report, which reveals $97,000 in termination benefits were paid last year.

‘A termination benefit is defined as a payment made when an entity ‘decides to terminate an employee's employment before the normal retirement date’, and an employee decides to ‘accept voluntary redundancy in exchange for those benefits.’

“Ms Bennett needs to be up front about what has been going on at Work and Income this year.

“To bat away a straight question in the house today and again deny any responsibility – Ms Bennett said it was a matter for the State Services Commission - is just not good enough.

“If Ms Grossman left on her own terms and received no payment, then the Minister should be straight and tell us that,” said Jacinda Ardern.


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