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Ag Flags Wider Concerns About Public Sector

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

4 June 2008 - National Party State Services spokesman Gerry Brownlee believes it is significant that the Auditor-General has signalled a very broad inquiry into integrity within the public service, that will include questions about what Ministers knew and when.

"The Auditor-General has established terms of reference for an inquiry into the Immigration Service that are wide enough to take in all of National's concerns.

"The public will want to know what Ministers were told about the Immigration Service scandals, and what they'd heard about the allegations levelled at Mary Anne Thompson beyond any formal briefings.

"This was never just about public servants, but also whether Ministers adequately discharged their responsibilities, asked the right questions, and did the right thing after they were briefed.

"What is curious, is the Auditor-General's comment that the inquiry is not limited to the Immigration Service or the Department of Labour, but where relevant it 'will also include looking at the actions of others in the public sector'.

"Over the past couple of years the neutrality of the public service has been called into serious question.

"We're not just talking about the catalogue of issues at Immigration, but also the politicisation of the Environment Ministry, the outgoing State Services Commissioner's faulty memory, and more recently the political blame that was piled on to Housing New Zealand's CEO for conferences that the Minister was 'all for'.

"We look forward to any observations the Auditor-General may have about the culture which Labour has encouraged within the public service."

Mr Brownlee says all Ministers within Helen Clark's Government should signal they are willing to co-operate with the inquiry, including Helen Clark herself.

"If we are to find out the truth about who knew what, and when - then Miss Clark must say whether she ever found out why her close advisor, Mary Anne Thompson, pulled out of the running for a top job in the PM's department."

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