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Fisheries Management (Scampi) Inquiry Report



The State Services Commissioner, Michael Wintringham, today released the Inquiry Report of Helen Cull QC and David Smyth into Fisheries Management, particularly in relation to the Scampi fishery.

"My decision to conduct an inquiry into fisheries management was prompted by specific allegations of serious impropriety on the part of two senior officers of the Ministry of Fisheries and general allegations of impropriety, or poor management, of the Fisheries regime.

"These allegations gained considerable media coverage and, inevitably, were causing public concern in late 2002. I considered it important that an inquiry address these concerns to:

* ensure that the public could be confident that the New Zealand Public Service is free of systemic corruption or, in the unlikely event that a public servant behaves corruptly, they will be dealt with transparently and with the full force of the law; and provide a way of clearing the reputations of senior public servants."

* Mr Wintringham said his inquiry addressed the performance of the former Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the current Ministry of Fisheries, in relation to the scampi fishery. By far the majority of the inquiry dealt with events that preceded the establishment of the current Ministry of Fisheries in 1995. It did not deal with the appropriateness of fisheries legislation or Government fisheries policy.

* "This was the largest, and most costly, inquiry undertaken during my term as Commissioner. The Inquiry sat for 44 days and heard evidence from 73 witnesses. There was a considerable amount of historical file material to locate and process.

* "However, the cost of the inquiry is immaterial in terms of the need to ensure that such an important administrative function as allocating major property rights is carried out impartially and honestly. A thorough investigation was also necessary if the reputations of honest, long serving public servants are to be protected from unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations.

* "I would like to thank Helen Cull and David Smyth for the good job they have done under difficult circumstances. They have not only established the facts of the matter in question but have also identified important areas for improvement in the future," he said.

The main findings of the Inquiry are:

* there was no foundation for the allegations of corruption against two senior officers of the Ministry of Fisheries

* In the period before 1995 there was a history of inconsistent and poor administration by the then Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries that unfairly impacted on some fishers and undermined trust in New Zealand's fisheries management. This included:

* inconsistent administration and policy implementation between regions;

* markedly different treatment of large and small players in the industry, to the advantage of the large players;

* inadequate investigation of allegations of illegal fishing;

* inadequate responses to complaints of unfair or inconsistent treatment by fishers; and

* defensiveness in dealing with criticisms or complaints some of which remain to this day.

"This chain of events led to an unhappy relationship between the former department, its officials and the fishing industry.

"This is a sorry tale" Mr Wintringham said, "which holds important lessons for the wider State sector".

"Allegations of corruption against public servants are easy to make, enormously damaging of people's reputations and are expensive and difficult to counteract. Such allegations should never be made lightly.

"For New Zealanders to have trust in government, the heads of government departments and their staff must model the highest standards of integrity. But the report reinforces, as well, the importance of impartial and professional administration in maintaining that trust.

"There is an important boundary between maintaining good relations with, and knowledge of, a sector with which a government department deals and appearing to become too close to some of the players in that industry. That is especially the case where former public servants work for the industry and in their new capacity deal with former colleagues in a Ministry.

"Finally, the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries, Warwick Tuck, and fisheries staff are to be thanked for the way in which they have maintained the important functions of the Ministry while meeting the administrative and personal demands of this inquiry, and the Select Committee inquiry, over the past 19 months," Mr Wintringham said.

Inquiry report

The Executive Summary and Recommendations from the Inquiry report are available today online at www.ssc.govt.nz http://www.ssc.govt.nz from 2pm. The full Inquiry report (465 pages) will be available on request from the State Services Commission, level 5, 100 Molesworth Street, however there are limited quantities (the full report will be online by midday Friday 28 May).


1.0 Executive Summary

This Inquiry was established by the State Services Commissioner, following allegations of corruption and impropriety on the part of the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries and the Ministry of Fisheries, in relation to the management ... See... SSC Scampi Inquiry - 1.0 Executive Summary

2.0 Recommendations

"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 ... See... SSC Scampi Inquiry - 2.0 Recommendations

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