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Bullying tactics an abuse of power

State Services Spokesperson

16 August 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT
Bullying tactics an abuse of power

John Key must move immediately to determine whether his Minister, Hekia Parata abused her position in accessing individual teachers records, says Labour's State Services spokesperson Chris Hipkins.

“In response to letters from teachers expressing concern about the National Government’s plan to increase class sizes, Hekia Parata has written to the Boards of Trustees and Principals employing those teachers, rather than responding directly to their correspondence.

“Some of these teachers were writing in their personal capacities and made no mention of the school that they worked at,” Chris Hipkins said.

“If Hekia Parata accessed teachers personal records to identify which schools they worked at, that’s a very serious abuse of her position.

“This is yet another example of the National Government trying to bully those who oppose their policies into silence.

“Every citizen has the right to send a letter to a government minister without fear that their concerns will be taken to their employer.

“But bullying looks to be a deliberate tactic for Hekia Parata. Earlier this year she threatened schools that were using newsletters to inform parents about the effect National’s plan to increase class sizes. Parents have a right to know that information. Hekia Parata’s attempt to bully schools into silence is disgraceful.

“How can members of the public have confidence that their views are respected by this government, when teachers have had their privacy breached by the Minister of Education, when beneficiaries have had their personal information splashed all over the media by the Minister for Social Development, and when claimants to ACC can have no confidence that their sensitive information won’t be emailed all over the country?

“The Prime Minister must move immediately to reassure the New Zealand public,” Chris Hipkins said.

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