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Steve Maharey Let Down by His Memory 24 Times

Steve Maharey's slippery statements about Christine Rankin and the merger of WINZ with the Ministry of Social Policy expose a man evasive to the point of disbelief, ACT MP Muriel Newman said today.

"During cross-examination in the Rankin court case, Mr Maharey claimed he couldn't recall or remember something twenty-four times.

"Variations on 'What I will have to say in terms of my information is that I don't recall those statements', and 'I cannot imagine I would say that', were the feature of his evidence.

"Mr Maharey's often misleading and evasive answers extend to Parliamentary Questions.

"I asked Mr Maharey (Parliamentary Question 4308) for evidence to support his claim that there was 'nothing unusual' in creating a Ministry without prior consultation.

"Mr Maharey said that he had the 1997 creation of WINZ in mind.

"This is dishonest.

"The previous Government devoted an entire year to analysing merger options for Income Support and the Employment Service. They investigated the costs and benefits, and effects on a wide range of Departments. The process was transparent and open.

"This is blatantly different from Mr Maharey's merger, which OIA papers show was plotted in secret between Helen Clark, Trevor Mallard, Steve Maharey, and Mr Wintringham. Cabinet made its decision with no consultation, no costings, and no investigation. Never before in New Zealand's history has such a huge policy decision been made in such a clandestine fashion.

"The Departments concerned were kept in the dark, as was the Opposition and the media.

"Mr Maharey should be sacked. A Minister whose memory fails 24 times in two hours, and whose answers to Parliamentary Questions are dishonest, should not be responsible for New Zealand's biggest Government ministry," Muriel Newman concluded.

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