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Minister okays 'highly political' public service

Gerry Brownlee MP
National Party State Services Spokesman

15 November 2007

Minister okays 'highly political' public service

National Party State Services spokesman Gerry Brownlee says Labour's green lighted a 'highly political' public service during answers to Parliamentary questions today.

"The State Services Minister David Parker has green-lighted 'highly political' roles in the supposedly neutral public service. He, as the guardian of public service neutrality, is abandoning the long-held conventions and the rules as we've always known them."

Mr Parker was asked to respond to Jim Anderton's comment in the Hunn report on the Madeleine Setchell employment case that: 'the role of communications advisers ... had developed to be very different from what it might have been in the past because it increasingly involved communications strategy (and sometimes highly political strategy) rather than mere reporting'.

"Mr Parker confirmed that he did not think there was anything wrong with that statement, even though departments are supposed to be politically neutral.

"Appallingly, Mr Parker has also backed Jim Anderton's decision to veto Madeleine Setchell's employment at MAF."

Mr Anderton vetoed Ms Setchell because he effectively said that if there was a leak, she would be blamed.

"That can be seen in no other way as a clear steer to his departmental CEO that he should not employ Ms Setchell because the Minister could not trust her and he couldn't see any way through managing the 'perceived' conflict.

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"Ms Setchell's competence and professionalism are held in high regard. She had worked for government departments before, yet she was vetoed from two departmental roles by Ministers because of who her partner worked for.

"This is the new low standard which Labour is promoting for our 'neutral' public service. If applicants have a friend or a relative with political connections it does not matter how competent you are - there is no place in the public service for you under Labour."

ENDS

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