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“All I can do … is tell the Truth”

Written By: - Date published: 2:47 pm, August 30th, 2017 - 50 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, brethren, business, capitalism, crosby textor, democracy under attack, Dirty Politics, uncategorized - Tags:

Bennett made a number of statements today in her interview with Jack Tame which may or may not be of interest. I note Tolley remains silent.

The full interview (and full view of Bennett in righteously indiginant mode) is here

She made several comments:

  1. Why would we stuff up our own launch? This seems to be a red herring because a leaker doesn’t determine when the reporter will publish and time is running out before the election.
  2. “I didn’t tell anyone”. Why did she need to speak to Tolley about it if she wasn’t interested in the information? Gossip? How does that line up with integrity with confidential information (see below)?
  3. It’s not something we would do – Er, except that it is  and here is the National Party manual for this behaviour and here

Justice Minister Judith Collins has admitted giving information about a public servant to Whale Oil blogger, Cameron Slater. The minister believed the public servant, whose name she gave Mr Slater, had leaked information to the Labour Party; he was then targeted on the Whale Oil site and received death threats.

The information was that Mr English (now PM) was double dipping on a housing allowance.

The statement of major interest to me is this one (and with which she and I are in agreement):

“Our integrity and our role as Ministers in holding confidential information is absolutely pivotal to our role”

And yet she and Collins willfully disclosed private information of citizens for political advantage. Now, Bennett is still claiming she knows the Law better than those who administer it. Robert Hesketh, Director of the Office of Human Rights Proceedings has had his own issues but note the comments made about his integrity here. Astonishingly she seems to be now stating that behaving contrary to integrity and ethical standards is ok if you do it yourself and in the open (her reference to revealing the income of a beneficiary challenging her).

That leads me to a pet topic, Ethics. Why do we bother with a Cabinet Manual?

Cabinet Manual

“Conduct of Ministers

2.55 A Minister of the Crown, while holding a ministerial warrant, acts in a number of different capacities:

  1. in a ministerial capacity, making decisions and determining and promoting policy within particular portfolios;
  2. in a political capacity as a member of Parliament, representing a constituency or particular community of interest; and
  3. in a personal capacity.

2.56 In all these roles and at all times, Ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards. This includes exercising a professional ap proach and good judgement in their interactions with the public and officials, and in all their communications, personal and professional. Ultimately, Ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour.”

Ethics have to filter from the top down of any organisation.. It rarely works the other way round. Those at the lower end can behave ethically but usually get isolated and weeded out by those above without ethics. Ethical decision-making can be learned. It is not about being a perfect human being and it is not about being moralistic per se (it is not about religiosity).

Maybe the Cabinet Manual needs to become more toothy. An independent panel to make determinations? In the past elections would have punished such low level behaviour. Increasingly our politicians are showing themselves wholly unable to behave to anything other than the “if it is legal it is ok “ standard and some, like Bennett,  Collins and Brownlee all broke laws, so fall short of even that low standard. All remain ministers and one has been promoted to Deputy PM. What message is that sending? And it is sending a message.

They may be innocent this time but clearly people think they are more than capable of it based on past experience.

Advance warning. If Labour are to lead the next government I will hold their feet to the same fire.  National claim to aspirational in everything except ethical behaviour.

 

 

50 comments on ““All I can do … is tell the Truth””

  1. Keith 1

    Honestly, do we care or even listen to Paula Bennett anymore?

    Her word is worthless.

    In 2009 when a simple member of the public, Natasha Fuller, criticised Ms Bennett’s decision to scale back the Training Incentive Allowance that had advantaged people just like Paula Bennett, Bennett set out to destroy her by leaking confidential income details about Fuller to the media. So arrogant was this new minister that she stated she would do it again. The temerity of Ms Fuller to ever ever question someone so superior as Paula Bennett.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10827271

    Bennett should have gone there and then, it was a disgraceful, spiteful, ugly piece of work by a so called “Minister of the Crown” that was sadly, a standard for the Key government.

    Of course she remained, a bully boy for Key, but in some respects I am glad she lingered on because I see Bennett as a millstone now for National. Part of the massive amount of rotten contaminated wood that National have.

    • tracey 1.1

      She is seen as the person who bullies beneficiaries the most. And many Right (and some Left) supporters seem to consider that a Nationals sport just behind Rugby.

      As long as National is polling over 40% any obituaries are very premature

  2. Penny Bright 3

    As an anti-corruption campaigner / ‘whistle-blower’ what I believe we need in NZ, is an enforceable ‘Code of Conduct’ for all NZ MPs.

    Penny Bright
    2017 Independent candidate for Tamaki.

  3. Psych nurse 4

    The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour.

  4. Ad 5

    If English loses, Bennett is leader of the Opposition.

    She will be formidable.

    • tracey 5.1

      She has skeletons.

    • Liberal Realist 5.2

      If English loses, Bennett is leader of the Opposition.

      With Collins holding a knife to her spine …

    • If English loses, and Bennett becomes the leader of the Opposition she will be formidably easy to cast into the dustbin of history.

      She lacks credibility , cannot think fast enough on her feet, is gaffe prone , temperamental , has already won herself a poor reputation of possessing oafish hypocrisy and ,… between her and Judith Collins will ensure National will be in opposition for decades.

      Unfortunately for us,.. both of them would be long gone by the time those decades were up.

      • Hanswurst 5.3.1

        +1. Bennett is absolutely hopeless. She isn’t strong in policy or on making sense, and lacks the sort of common charm that Key had to make up for those same failings. Collins also lacks that charm, but she is confident on policy and able to think better on her feet than pretty much anyone in the house or the press. So long as she can live down her past public scandals, she would be comfortably the most formidable adversary for the Left once English is gone.

    • AB 5.4

      Doubt that she would win a leadership vote – too disliked, probably some baggage and not really ‘National’ enough. A useful tool for making it look like National cares about working class battlers, but even that sleight of hand is wearing thin.
      Adams and Bridges would be my pick.

    • SpaceMonkey 5.5

      If English loses, National is going to sink into disarray, not too dissimilar to what we saw with Labour, while the various factions hack away at each other. There’s at least two terms of a Labour-led Government in that.

  5. Maybe the Cabinet Manual needs to become more toothy.

    It does. As it stands it doesn’t have the force of law. It’s only a guidebook and that is a large part of the problem because we then end up with ministers who purposefully break with the Cabinet Manual, do all sorts of unethical stuff, and say that it was all legal because it was.

    and some, like Bennett, Collins and Brownlee all broke laws, so fall short of even that low standard. All remain ministers and one has been promoted to Deputy PM. What message is that sending?

    It’s telling us that the law only applies to poor people.

    If Labour are to lead the next government I will hold their feet to the same fire.

    I think that Labour could do themselves and the country a major service by simply making the Cabinet Manual law with very long jail terms for breaking it.

    • tracey 6.1

      The Prime Minister is the arbiter of the manual. The last PM came from an environment of if it is legal it is ok (finacial services) and we have seen the result…

      • The Prime Minister is the arbiter of the manual.

        I Thought it was the Speaker.

        Still, does it matter?

        We obviously can’t leave it to the politicians to police themselves and we can’t seem to leave it to the police either.

  6. Stuart Munro 7

    Paula is one of a very small group of suspects who had the information. One of them leaked it. No amount of bleating will make it not so – she can produce the guilty leaker or stfu.

  7. Incognito 8

    This may sound pedantic but nowhere are those “highest ethical standards” specified. Whose standards? We all have (slightly?) different standards. I think this is way too ambiguous and leaves (or creates) a huge grey area.

    • tracey 8.1

      It is not slightly pedantic.

      It is not defined. However in legal interpretation one would pay attention to the definition of ethics and the intentional placement of the word “highest” ahead of it. Many laws are vague or lacking definition and that is what Courts are for. To provide the interpretation. Example, legislation does not define “reasonable person” and yet that is a standard used in much legislation including Health and Safety.

      Ethics is a field of study and is not about moralistic/religious judgyness.

  8. Cinny 10

    My kids smile and sometimes laugh when they lie. Nice smile Paula, JS

  9. … ” Advance warning. If Labour are to lead the next government I will hold their feet to the same fire. National claim to aspirational in everything except ethical behaviour”…

    Excellent.

    We as a people, need to start – and those bodies who have the power to outside of a general election ,- demanding this declining shoddy standards of ethics are arrested.

    It is difficult to climb back from that cesspit having once arrived , however, … especially if the infection has been contagious. It would now be widely recognized that the vector for the spread of that virus has been the media. So many of the commentariat aided by privatisation , – with collusion between biased media in favour of certain political ideology’s , – have had the motive only for news that advances that political agenda ; the defense of the democratic process comes way down on their lists.

    But that type of collusion didn’t just happen by accident.

    It was enabled first politically.

    Coupled with the threat of funding cuts, this viral infection has even rendered our law enforcement agency’s to be hesitant to proceed where they should have.

    In short , there is little true accountability , no consistent standards demanded to be set with the resultant devolution into below the bar ethical standards.

    The most effective way to make sure there is would be through the installment of a completely new govt and a comprehensive overhaul of the Cabinet Manuel , – and the vigorous definition and enforcement of those standards.

  10. the pigman 12

    At one point she said “I didn’t leak to anyone else…” — it struck me there are two ways of reading that statement. In any event, she was truly unconvincing.

  11. Philj 13

    PB or not PB, that is the question’?
    Tis better to have lied and lost than never to have lied at all! Or words to that effect.

  12. Terry 14

    My theory, for what it’s worth… There is a cunning old devil who himself leaked the story, knowing that people would assume it was the Nats, thereby making him look the victim.

  13. Nick 15

    Bennett is a walking Tui billboard

  14. And as for Bennett , English , Collins , Joyce and the whole screaming , lying , raving lot of them and their crap National party … we’re leaving.

    Bring on September , and the Labour / Greens coalition government.

    And National just go ! Just go . Get out !

    Yeah-yeah-yeah, well!
    Uh! Open your eyes and look within,
    Are you satisfied (with the life you’re living)? Uh!
    We know where we’re going, uh!
    We know where we’re from.
    We’re leaving Babylon,
    We’re going to our Father land.

    Bob Marley & the Wailers – Exodus (live) – YouTube
    Bob Marley & the Wailers – Exodus (live)▶ 7:40

  15. Pulyer Fucking Benefit.

    You had a lot to do with justifying your shitarse governments denial of the housing crisis ,… so here’s one for you and that smug bastard Dipper mate of yours .

    Read this and slink back down your sewer , you disgusting hypocritical cow.

    These kids are bloody dying.

    Childhood diseases in the land of milk and poverty – NZ Herald
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz › New Zealand

    And this

    Childhood diseases in the land of milk and poverty
    http://www.globalheadlines.uk/…/Childhood-diseases-in-the-land-of-milk-and-poverty.html

    And this

    Childhood diseases in the land of milk and poverty – British Expats
    britishexpats.com › … › Living & Moving Abroad › New Zealand › The Sheep Dip

  16. KJT 18

    Can I ask the obvious?

    How is it that politicians can obtain an individuals private information from IRD and MSD, without the permission of the individual concerned?

    Doesn’t say much for the “public service”, or politicians, respect for privacy rights.

    Where are the arrests for breaking the law. Or, is that only for poor people?

    • Good questions and the answer is that they shouldn’t be able to. People high up in the hierarchy don’t need to know personal details. All they need to know is the aggregate.

      The fact that they did know and had it handed to them shows that our data processes aren’t good enough.

  17. sam green 19

    So who’s paying the Scarlet Pimpernodgers for the attempted hits on Ardern on Kiwibog? Or is she giving it away for free these days?

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  • Rotorua tourist icon to be safeguarded
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  • $14.7m for jobs training and education
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  • Sport Recovery Package announced
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  • Legal framework for COVID-19 Alert Level referred to select committee
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