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Wide Ranging Inquiry Of WINZ Needed Say Greens

18 July 1999

Wide ranging inquiry of WINZ needed say Greens

The Green Party is calling for a wide-ranging inquiry into the financial and management practices of Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ).

This call follows revelations that senior staff travelled by chartered jet to a resort hotel.

"The jet is just the tip of the iceberg," Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald said today. "A senior staff member is being made the scapegoat for the jet but wasteful expenditure is common in WINZ.

"I certainly don't condone the jet but any investigation must start at the top with Chief Executive Christine Rankin and National Commissioner Ray Smith. They have imposed a corporate culture of extravagance since they took over WINZ last October.

"Rankin has spent millions of dollars on mock wedding breakfasts, roadshows, corporate videos, new wardrobes made overseas, rebranding offices and advertisements defending WINZ's poor performance.

"At the time of the student allowance crisis Rankin and Smith were overseas `studying' schemes to get new job seekers motivated.

"Meanwhile frontline staff were left to clean up the mess created by the lack of planning and oversight at senior level.

"If Ms Rankin and Mr Smith are concerned about motivation they should reverse their imposition of a corporate culture on WINZ and restore a philosophy of serving the public.

"Staff have been seriously demoralised by what they see as a triumph of style over substance. The message they get is that clear desks are more important than satisfied superannuitants, sole parents, job seekers, students and sickness beneficiaries.

"Even the new WINZ TV ads encouraging employers to use WINZ for staff recruitment are hollow. The ads make a big deal that many of the people working on the ad shoot are job seekers but in real life WINZ use outside recruitment consultants to recruit their own staff.

"I have written to the ministers in charge of WINZ, Peter McCardle (Work and Income) and Roger Sowry (Social Services), calling on them to immediately instigate an independent inquiry into the financial and management practices of WINZ," he said.


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