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Witch Hunt Further Damages Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

17 August 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Witch Hunt Further Damages Foreign Affairs

The Government’s efforts to track down staff who opposed the botched restructuring of Foreign Affairs is causing further damage, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Phil Goff.

“The Rebstock Inquiry and the broadening of its terms of reference is simply entrenching the damage already done to staff morale and engagement caused by the initial ill-considered reorganisation proposal,” Phil Goff said.

“This is the first time in the Ministry’s history that information has been leaked. It related to the reorganisation and not to the Ministry’s professional work.

“It doesn’t need an inquiry to find out why this happened or who the real culprit is.

“Murray McCully, in less than three years turned a professional, efficient and committed career ministry into a disillusioned and dispirited organisation.

“When he proposed sacking more than 300 people, forcing 600 others to reapply for their jobs, slashing allowances for the families of staff required to serve overseas, and effectively took away employment security for everyone posted overseas, what did he think the effect would be?” Phil Goff asked.

“When 49 out of 53 Heads of Mission, our most able and competent diplomats, put in writing that Mr McCully’s proposals would cause long-term damage to New Zealand’s security and economic interests, that was unprecedented. It showed the huge depth of feeling about its effect.

“Will Mr McCully be sacking our top diplomats who by putting their concerns in writing must have known they were likely to become public?

“And in the end the Government and Mr McCully himself were forced to admit that the proposals were ill-considered and unworkable and had to back down,” Phil Goff said.

“So why are they now embarking on a witch hunt when they have acknowledged by their own actions that it was Mr McCully who got it wrong.

“The Government is simply making a bad situation worse when they should be working constructively to rebuild the Ministry they have so badly damaged,” Phil Goff said.


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