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PSA release on Clare Curran report

PSA Pleased No Inappropriate Ministerial Direction In Curran Case

The PSA is pleased the State Services Commission has found that there was no inappropriate Ministerial direction in awarding a communications contract at the Ministry for the Environment to Labour Party activist Clare Curran.

Communications consultant, Clare Curran, was engaged on contract by the Ministry for the Environment between May and July 2006. A commission investigation was sparked by claims that the Minister for Climate Change Issues, David Parker, had inappropriately influenced the Ministry's decision to contract Clare Curran.

"We are pleased that the commission's report has cleared the Minister of any inappropriate direction in recommending Clare Curran for communications work at the Ministry for the Environment," says PSA National Secretary, Brenda Pilott.

"We would have been seriously concerned if the Minister had acted inappropriately as that would have compromised the political neutrality of the public service.''

"But the PSA remains concerned about the ability of public service managers to correctly handle the political neutrality issue," says Brenda Pilott.

The SSC report released today states that managers at the Ministry for the Environment need much clearer guidance on the respective roles of Ministers and public servants and that this needs to be given urgent attention.

"The PSA believes that managers throughout the public service would benefit from having clearer guidance in this area," says Brenda Pilott.

The union has repeatedly stated that it is concerned about the ability of public service managers to handle potential conflicts of interest of a political nature.

"The State Services Commissioner today acknowledged that maintaining political neutrality in the public service is difficult and demanding," says Brenda Pilott.

"That's why we believe the commission needs to be more proactive in developing guidelines for public service managers on how to handle this issue."

"The commission also needs to ensure public service managers receive training in managing these situations," says Brenda Pilott.

ENDS

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