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PSA: More Than Words Needed from SSC

November 15, 2007
For Immediate Use

PSA: More Than Words Needed from State Services Commissioner

"The State Services Commissioner needs to provide public services managers with clear guidelines and training on how they handle possible conflicts of inflicts, like those that arose in the Madeleine Setchell case," says Brenda Pilott, National Secretary of the PSA, which has 55,000 members working in the state sector.

Brenda Pilott says the commissioner, Dr Prebble's, statements on Radio New Zealand National this morning that public servants simply need to be tell their managers about a possible conflict of interest will not allay state sector workers concerns about the issue.

"Public servants remain concerned that their job, or their chance of getting a new job in the state sector, will be at risk if they disclose a relationship with someone who is politically active," says Brenda Pilott. "This is because they do not believe that state sector managers have the skills to handle this issue."

"This is why the PSA is calling on the commissioner to establish some clear guidelines on how these potential conflicts of interest are dealt with and ensure state sector managers are given training in this area," says Brenda Pilott.

The PSA believes this is necessary to remove the lingering concerns that public servants, and people thinking about a career in the state sector, have about disclosing possible conflicts of interest of the type that occurred in the Settchell case.

Brenda Pilott says Dr Prebble also needs to issue an instruction to public service chief executives that there will be no registers recording the political activities of public servants or of their families or close friends.

She welcomes the commissioner's strong statements on Radio NZ National this morning opposing the establishment of registers of this nature.

"I agree with Dr Prebble that having such registers would be a "nonsense" and "outrageous,"" says Brenda Pilott.

"But the PSA believes the Commissioner needs to go further and specifically instruct public service chief executives not to establish these registers to ensure they are not created." "This is because chief executives don't always agree with the commissioner and may chose to create such a register unless they're specifically told not to," says Brenda Pilott.

She says Dr Prebble also needs to get together with the Auditor-General, Kevin Brady. He has issued guidelines that say establishing registers recording public servants interests is an option in managing conflicts of interest.

"The PSA's concern is that public service chief executives will believe the Auditor General is advising them to establish registers of their staff's political and personal circumstances," says Brenda Pilott. "The Commissioner needs to get together with the Auditor General and clarify the situation."


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