If your income is courtesy of the taxpayer you had better be careful about what you say publicly or who you give information to – unless you are a cabinet minister, apparently.
In the wake of Paula Bennett’s somewhat Clayton’s apology and lack of repentance for releasing the personal details of a solo mum, both Gordon Campbell (Paula Bennett’s problems with privacy) and Steven Cowan (Paula Bennett – Guilty as charged) point to the apparent hypocrisy that has seen ten WINZ staff sacked for breaching the privacy of beneficiaries.
The failure to extend the department’s zero-tolerance policy on privacy to the top may be encouraging her colleagues. Education Minister Hekia Parata is accused of using private information about two teachers to make sure their principals and Boards of Trustees were aware of their political views – listen to Morning Report here
, and see Chris Hipkins’ Red Alert blog post Bullying tactics an abuse of power
In contrast, no effort is spared when public servants are the leakers it seems. The investigation into the highly embarrassing Mfat leaks earlier in the year is reaching epic proportions, with the terms of reference being broadened and the two unions involved lawyering up. The inquiry, led by the omnipresent Paula Rebstock has similar powers to a court of law – see Vernon Small’s Net spreads in MFAT leaks hunt
. It has all the hallmarks of a Witch Hunt in the Public Sector
, says Robert Winter, but may turn into ‘a serious political embarrassment’.
Embarrassing leaks continue for the Government with Radio New Zealand ‘obtaining’ a Ministry of Health document that says drug testing for beneficiaries could cost twice as much as it will save and have a ‘dubious’ effect on health and welfare – see: Ministry worried about welfare policy
. The Council of Trade Unions points out that while testing will catch recreational marijuana users, users of harder drugs such as methamphetamines are less likely to be caught – see Danya Levy’s High cost for drug testing beneficiaries: Health ministry
One sure way to stop embarrassing leaks is not to have the information in the first place. Despite undertaking a massive consultation process on how to improve the lives of vulnerable children, Paula Bennett says just measuring child poverty is too difficult. The Government is, apparently cutting to the chase by ‘addressing poverty’ rather than measuring it – see Kate Shuttleworth and Claire Trevett’s Bennett slammed over child poverty claim
(). Bennett’s behaviour while avoiding answering questions on the topic in Parliament yesterday earned her the wrath of one of her own National Party colleagues – see RNZ’s Bennett's behaviour worse than 3-year-old: Speaker
Other important or interesting political items today include:
Private members bills are a two edged sword for the Opposition. A Greens bill to extend a tax-credit to beneficiaries may have Labour squirming. It was Labour’s election policy in 2011 but there have been clear signals that the party was looking to dump the policy very soon – see Claire Trevett and Adam Bennett’s Labour offers limited support to bill backing its election promise
There is much speculation about just how real David Shearer’s roof painter is. Cameron Slater claims to have discovered proof that Rufus Paynter isn’t real
. But one blogger on a sickness benefit is happy to tell their real painting story at The Standard – see: To the Back Teeth. And Beyond
Labour have missed the whole point of the regional tour idea says Mark Blackham. It’s about listening, not slogans and speeches – see: Hijacking the Heartland
Find an unpopular target that your opposition has to defend, is Matthew Hooton’s advice to Labour. Beneficiaries are obviously the wrong target when you are up against Paula Bennett – try big business – see David Farrar’s Hooton on opposition strategy
Labour’s promised resurgence in the Maori seats could be looking very shaky if Cameron Slater and iPredict are right – see: Is Shane Jones about to resign?
The share loyalty scheme will need parliamentary approval and, as it transfers millions from taxpayers to a wealthy few, that is the least we can expect writes Brian Easton in Economy: SOE bonus scheme the PM’s priority?
In her latest Listener column Jane Clifton explains why the Government’s Charter Schools project is ‘madness’, but so too is the overreaction of its opponents – see: Charter-schools policy debate
John Ansell and Louis Crimp won’t pose too much of challenge to the bi-cultural consensus, but the Constitutional Advisory Panel report in 2013 is a different story writes Chris Trotter. It may play out nicely for National’s 2014 election campaign – see: Treatygate and the subversion of biculturalism
Drug testing beneficiaries
Paula Bennett privacy breach
Tax credit for beneficiaries
Treatment of migrants