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SSC Scampi Inquiry - 2.0 Recommendations

2.0 Recommendations
The Terms of Reference indicated that:

"the inquiry will assess the quality of the administration and management at the time referred to in the allegations, to determine whether there is a need to take further action to ensure that the quality of the Ministry of Fisheries' current management and systems meet public expectations."

and

"the reviewers will recommend to the State Services Commissioner, on the basis of their findings on these matters, what further action, if any, should be undertaken, whether by the State Services Commissioner or by other parties. The focus of such subsequent action would include the quality of current (2002) administration and compliance systems, processes, practices and behaviours in respect of fisheries management."

2.1.1.1 Recommendations Relating Specifically to the Ministry of Fisheries
The Ministry should reduce the defensiveness which is presently characterised in the evidence and the hearing for this Inquiry. This defensiveness appears to be the legacy of the long and difficult introduction of the QMS system and the years of associated litigation. The Ministry should give greater emphasis to fairness and evenhandedness in its decision-making, as well as continuing to emphasise legal compliance.
The Ministry should introduce a system to record the nature of complaints received from the fishing industry and fishers, which would enable trends in fishers perceptions of the Ministry's decision-making to be analysed and monitored. This system could include complaints about the current system which have been contracted out or devolved.
In enforcement activities the Inquiry recommends that the Ministry ensure that no facilities or vessels owned by fishers be used as part of surveillance or compliance activities by enforcement officers to investigate possible offending by a competitor in that fishery, to maintain the independence and integrity of investigations and the prosecution process.
If the legislation, policy and process for the allocation of scampi quota finally adopted allows administrative discretion, then the reviewers recommend that to the extent such discretion allows, those exercising it consider, when coming to an overall view of the relevant public interest, the exercise of the discretion be informed by the findings of this Inquiry. Such an approach would assist in meeting the public expectations of fairness and impartiality in the administration of fisheries and also meet the requirements of the Public Service Code of Conduct.
MFish should ensure that there is a consistent and fair process for the statutory right of review against decisions on fishing permits under s 94 Fisheries Act 1996 by prescribing clear procedures for the conduct of a fair and transparent hearing.
2.1.1.2 Recommendations which Apply to the Ministry of Fisheries and have Wider Application in the Public Service
Departments engaged in developing advice on, administering, or monitoring regulatory processes should periodically review their processes and behaviours in such administration to ensure that all interests are taken properly into account in assessing the overall public interest in regulatory decision making;
In undertaking such reviews departments should consider whether specific attention to or support for smaller or less forthcoming enterprises in the industry being regulated may be required;
Departments should alert and train staff on the need to counter balance the effects of lobbying, greater information and persistent inquiries by major enterprises in an industry, with a view to ensuring that a proper balance of interest in regulatory decision-making is achieved. The reviewers note that this does not necessarily mean weighting all interests equally but ensuring that a proper balance of interests is recognised, and the processes leading to that view have the fullest integrity;
Departments should ensure that in exit interviews with employees departing to work in the industry regulated by that department, such employees are made aware of the fact that future approaches by them to officials in relation to regulatory matters will be treated carefully and with a degree of caution, to ensure that undue advantage is not being given to their future employer;
Departments should train the staff administering regulatory processes on how they should deal with ex-employees relative to others - that all care should be taken to ensure that transactions and relationships with such ex-employees is fully even-handed and if necessary cautious, to ensure that no undue advantage is given to them or to their new employer.
All Departments or Ministries should reinforce in staff training and by other means the important of the Public Service Code of Conduct on Offers of Gifts or Gratuities. It is particularly important for Departments administering regulatory processes to ensure that it's employees do not compromise or be perceived to be compromising their integrity, particularly when they are entrusted to administer and allocate valuable commercial property rights.
2.1.1.3 Recommendations to the State Services Commissioner
The State Services Commissioner should take no further action in respect of the allegations of corruption and impropriety which were made against the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Fishers.
The State Services Commissioner should consider if further supporting material for the Public Service Code of Conduct should be developed to enable departments to train staff better on the ethics and behaviours needed to ensure that advisory and administrative processes give proper and balanced recognition to the interests of different enterprises in a regulated industry.
2.1.1.4 Other Issues Raised in Final Submissions
We do not propose to make any recommendations on the powers of inquiries under the State Sector Act to award costs.
We do not propose to release the transcript of the Inquiry or to recommend its release.

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