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Time for an independent stand-alone watch dog commission

Time for an independent stand-alone watch dog commission to investigate corruption and misuse of office

The New Zealand Maori Council has opened a public discussion on whether it is time New Zealand moved with the times when it came to a stand-alone body to investigate corruption and the misuse of office by Public officials.

New Zealand Maori Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, said that “the current model is neither sustainable nor independent citing the more recent case of Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf's possible mis-use of office in reporting an allegation of hacking to the New Zealand Police when he knew It may have been incorrect. Then there was the case of the former CEO of Immigration. Mary-Anne Thompson, the former Head of the New Zealand Immigration Service pleaded guilty to CV fraud was today fined $10,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours community work.”

“These are two extreme cases that sit at the very top of the New Zealand Public Service with investigations usually carried out by the State Services Commission. But here’s the thing – the State Services Commission is also the employer. Then we have the case of the former CEO of the Waikato DHB and his travel expenses and the resignation of the New Zealand Defence Forces Chief Scientist back in 2010 around a fabricated resume. In the latter example of the former Chief Scientist of the Defence Force he had claimed to have served in the Falklands war, Northern Ireland, the Gulf war; been awarded the DSO and Military Cross and Bar; captained the Royal Navy swimming team, played for a Welsh rugby team against the All Blacks; had an honorary PhD in astronomy from Cambridge University; played guitar on the British folk circuit, and was on an IRA death list.” Tukaki said

“So in the current model we have the public service investigating the public service which is akin to the Crown paying the Crown to get a job done. If we are to stand up to our international obligations we need to have a tight system of governance and review and at the moment the State Services Commission is just not the independent organ we need them to be.” Tukaki said

“A classic example of the case of the Department of Corrections report claiming that Maori Nationalist Groups were operating behind bars in New Zealand Prisons akin to Jihadi groups – sure; the Minister came down on hard and the Department issued an apology but then what? How do we know what sanctions or changes were put in place of they had not been disclosed through an independent commission of inquiry?” Tukaki said

“If New Zealanders think that we, as a nation, are not prone to this sort of behavior then quite honestly we need to stop living in a bubble. Whether it comes to the encroachment of stupidity within the Public Service, the interference of foreign actors in policy making or unfounded claims made by public officials we need to have an independent body with the powers of a standing Royal Commission to investigate, instigate and hold people to account.” Tukaki said

“The one thing I get sick and tired of is the reporting of something that may occur within a Maori organisation – on those occasions its all over the media and people use it as an excuse to hit us – but in all reality the cases of fraud and mis-use of office in New Zealand outstrip anything that may have happened in Maoridom and yet there is little or no holding those people to account – even when it involves often millions of dollars.”

Tukaki used the examples of the Standing Royal Commissions into Corruption and Mis-Conduct in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria as examples. Council will be preparing a position paper and lobbying Government for a separation of the State Services Act.


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