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PQ 3. State Services Commissioner

PQ 3. State Services Commissioner—Management of Harassment Complaint [Sitting date: 09 December 2014. Volume:702;Page:3. Text is subject to correction.]

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that Iain Rennie made a “serious miscalculation” over the handling of a sexual harassment complaint against former Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority boss Roger Sutton?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Ye s.

Andrew Little : Was it a serious miscalculation for Iain Rennie to hold a joint press conference with Roger Sutton, after receiving advice against it from his own communications staff?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In my opinion, yes.

Andrew Little : Does he accept that the head of his own Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet made a serious miscalculation by appearing at the joint press conference and embracing Roger Sutton at the end?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do, although that should not be taken as a marriage proposal.

Andrew Little : Does he accept that the behaviour of Iain Rennie and Andrew Kibblewhite indicates an “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” culture of unaccountability at the top of the Public Service?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not. I think that is what the unions were doing when they voted that member in.

Andrew Little : Is it a serious miscalculation that his own Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has just 15 percent women in top roles, even though women make up half of the staff employed in that department?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : My understanding is that those numbers, on the advice I have had from the chief executive, will be improving. One of the issues for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is that it includes Government House within its staff numbers, and that has some impact on skewing quite a lot of the data that it records.

Andrew Little : Why is he doing nothing at all about the serious miscalculations that Iain Rennie and the head of his own department made in mishandling the Roger Sutton case?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not think it could be characterised as doing nothing, but the State Services Commissioner has statutory independence and that needs to be preserved. I have made it clear, both publicly and, in the case of Mr Kibblewhite, privately—

Hon Annette King : You’ve made it a joke. You’ve turned it into a joke.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : —you are a joke—that I am disappointed in their behaviour.

Andrew Little : Why does he still have confidence in Iain Rennie?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Because Iain Rennie has been around the State services and the State sector for nearly 30 years. Over that period of time of 30 years he has, I think, conducted his leadership roles very successfully. He was appointed under a Labour Government and reappointed under a National Government, and although he would accept that he made a mistake in terms of the joint press conference, I think it is fair to say that for the most part the rest of his performance has been good.


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