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Human Rights Commission concludes that Bennett breached privacy

Written By: - Date published: 1:16 pm, August 15th, 2012 - 114 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, national - Tags: , ,

Paula Bennett has abused her position as a Minister. We’ve been waiting for the hearing to conclude for a long time. Here’s the ruling at last, courtesy of Stuff.


Media statement on Paula Bennett privacy complaint

Wednesday, 15 August 2012, 12:17 pm
Press Release: Human Rights Commission
Office of Human Rights Proceedings: Media statement on Paula Bennett

The Director of Human Rights Proceedings announced today the resolution of a complaint under the Privacy Act against Hon Paula Bennett, Minister of Social Development.

The Director, Mr Robert Hesketh said, “On the basis of the Minister’s letter to me, I have agreed to close my file. The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. The letter from the Minister is attached. We have all agreed that the letter speaks for itself and we will make no further comment.”

The complaint had been referred to the Director by the Privacy Commissioner. This is the normal process under the Privacy Act when the Privacy Commissioner considers a complaint has substance, but the parties cannot agree on a settlement.

Letter Office of Hon Paula Bennett 30 July 2012.pdf

[The following is a text-recognition version of Paula Bennett’s letter generated by Scoop – may contain errors.]

Office of Hon Paula Bennett
Minister for Social Development
Minister of Youth Affairs

Monday, 30 July 2012

Director of Human Rights Proceedings
PO Box 6751
Wellesley Street
Auckland

Dear Mr Hesketh,

I have on previous occasions expressed to you through my counsel and to Ms Fuller, when I met with her in person, my regret at the personal cost that this incident has caused Ms Fuller. The purpose of this letter is to formally convey that.

I strongly support the right of individuals to participate in and comment on govemment decisions. It is essential to a functioning democracy. I was therefore pleased that Ms Fuller took the opportunity to express her opinions on the Govemment’s policy changes.

As you know, I took the view that it was appropriate for me to respond to some of Ms Fuller’s comments in order to provide what I considered to be information relevant to the public debate that was taking place at the time. I acknowledge that you consider that I was wrong to do so and that this resulted in a breach of Ms Fuller’s privacy.

As you also know, I do not accept that view. But the purpose of this letter is not to further debate the merits of our respective positions. What I do want to do is to record my acknowledgment of the personal cost that the resulting public debate has caused Ms Fuller. I was personally shocked and concerned by the unpleasant, hurtful and personal comments some members of the public made about Ms Fuller. I am also distressed that such comments have been repeated following media reports about Ms Fuller’s complaint. Individuals who participate in public debate should not be subject to that kind of treatment. It was certainly never my intention that Ms Fuller would find herself in that unpleasant position.

I understand that Ms Fuller wishes to move on with her life and to put this unfortunate incident behind her. I hope that she is able to do so and that this letter may help to bring this matter to a close.
Given that this matter has attracted such a high level of media and public interest, it seems sensible for this letter to be made public to ensure the accuracy of any commentary and to bring the matter to a close by avoiding any ongoing media speculation. I understand that Ms Fuller is happy for that to happen. To that end, I confirm that if asked about the matter I will direct the questioner to this letter. I trust that the media and other interested parties will respect Ms Fuller’s desire to move on with her life and to stay out of the public spotlight. I wish her all the best for the future.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Paula Bennett

114 comments on “Human Rights Commission concludes that Bennett breached privacy ”

  1. framu 1

    “I was personally shocked and concerned by the unpleasant, hurtful and personal comments some members of the public made about Ms Fuller. I am also distressed that such comments have been repeated following media reports about Ms Fuller’s complaint. Individuals who participate in public debate should not be subject to that kind of treatment. It was certainly never my intention that Ms Fuller would find herself in that unpleasant position.”

    bollocks – she either knew what she was doing and what the result would be – or she is a fool – either way, unfit for office

    And theres no actual published findings – just this letter, theres no sanctions, no investigation of how she got the details in the first place, whether she actually breached any rules or not… nothing (unless theres other bits ive missed somewhere)

    It totally lets the current govt do the “well, theres some disagreement, but we think X” routine

  2. grumpy 2

    I have absolutely no idea why Bennett apologised…………

    Ridiculous and sure to advance the overhaul, if not abandoning, of the Human Rights Commission.

    • framu 2.1

      well if you ignore breaching the privacy act and illegally obtaining personal information then i can see how you get to that conclusion

      • grumpy 2.1.1

        There is no evidence at all that she illegally obtained private information and most people would conclude that by entering the political arena, using her state funding as an issue, she put herself in the situation complained of.

        • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.1

          So Grumps.

          You’d be happy for a future Minister of revenue to release all the tax deatils of anyone saying they think taxes are too high/

          What would you have thought if Cullen had released Key’s tax details when Key said that he donated a large part of his salary to charity?

          Have you read the Cabinet manual’s provisions about privacy?

        • weka 2.1.1.2

          I suspect the Privacy Commissioner and the Director of Human Rights Proceedings know a bit more about privacy legislation than you grumpy.

        • framu 2.1.1.3

          1) you cant release private info without written consent

          2) im no big city lawyer – but im pretty sure ministers arent privy to an individuals details held by their ministry. They arent actually allowed to go poking around in peoples files because they feel like it

          it doesnt matter what most people conclude – its the law that matters here.

          Your taking an terribly state-ist and authoritarian view of this matter

          • weka 2.1.1.3.1

            1) you cant release private info without written consent
             

            Actually you can, and it happens all the time, within the law. The privavy legislation is written so that you can release private information unless you have reason to believe the person who the information is about wouldn’t want it released. This is why doctors can share medical records with other health professionals but not with the media for instance. Where there is doubt the onus is on the record holder to get consent.
             
            In grey areas I think the Privacy Commissioner tends to favour the person rather than the record holder. Consequently there are some fairly dodgy catch all consent waivers being used as standard, at least within the health system. People are completely within their rights to refuse to sign, or to alter those forms, and not have their care compromised. Haven’t seen any used by WINZ yet.
             
            Re Bennett, the issue would be whether the beneficiary was likely to be ok with having her details made public. I think most people would assume no. Only Bennett seems to think this is ok. In any case, she could have checked – ultimately information belongs to the person it is about.
             
            The issue about Ministerial access would be good to get clarified. I’m guessing that the Director General is allowed access to any WINZ file in NZ, and then has the discretion to make that available to the Minister. Would be interesting to see where the legal line is there re privacy and whether any WINZ staff were also in breach of the Privacy Act.
             
            Just found this
             

            Each department has its own code of conduct for its staff, building on the Public Service code of conduct. In addition, WINZ is required to comply with a code of conduct issued by the Director-General of Social Welfare in consultation with the Privacy Commissioner, which governs the collection of information concerning beneficiaries.
             

            State Services Commission, December 1998, ISBN 0-478-08950-3. Report by the State Services Commissioner on the confidentiality and security of citizens’ personal information held by Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and the Department of Work and Income (Work and Income NZ / WINZ).
             
            http://www.ssc.govt.nz/publications-and-resources/945/all-pages
             
             
             

            • Vicky32 2.1.1.3.1.1

              This is why doctors can share medical records with other health professionals but not with the media for instance.

              I don ‘t think most people would have a problem with that – and earlier this year, when I discovered that the info sent by my GP to a consultant was wrong, (through no fault of her own, but her predecessor) I had no problem correcting the wrong stuff…

              • xtasy

                Vicky32: Ooooh, I could tell you about some of my experiences! But I rather won’t, as doctor’s and medical records in general are a very delicate matter to talk about, especially if things have been recorded wrongly or passed on while ignoring the legal rules.

                Usually doctors are only allowed to share or pass on certain info, if consent is given, and/or if it is of a nature, that is either required to be made available under certain sections of the Privacy Act or other laws. The process is not as easy and lax as some may think.

                Yet if wrong info about wrong diagnosis, medication, treatment and so forth gets passed on to other medical staff or carers, then this can have disastrous consequences. I fear the real practice would expose a lot of failings, and it must be sheer luck that in most cases nothing much more serious happens. That may be, because most failings to keep correct records are of a minor nature.

                • Vicky32

                  Yet if wrong info about wrong diagnosis, medication, treatment and so forth gets passed on to other medical staff or carers, then this can have disastrous consequences

                  That’s true! I was very lucky, the wrong information had no bearing on my diagnosis (it did lead to a lack of one, however, which was annoying!) But my GP has corrected it, and I know how what a useless idiot the doctor before her was – he was responsible for the wrong information! Thank goodness I need never see him again!

          • Vicky32 2.1.1.3.2

            im no big city lawyer – but im pretty sure ministers arent privy to an individuals details held by their ministry. They arent actually allowed to go poking around in peoples files because they feel like it

            You’re absolutely right! MPs and Ministers are allowed to look at the files of people dealing with their departments only with the permission of the person! 
            (I learned that when I worked for Soc Welf in the 80s, and if it’s changed, it would have changed in the direction of more privacy not less)

    • tracey 2.2

      she didnt admit wrong doing, she essentially agreed to disagree with the “judge”. Hardly respectful. She agreed to shut down public comment on her actions. How BIG of her.

  3. Craig Glen Eden 3

    Its not over then! Paula Bennett thinks her rights are more important than Fullers privacy rights. What a disgrace.

  4. James Norcliffe 4

    If this is an apology it is a Clayton’s apology:

    “I acknowledge that you consider that I was wrong to do so and that this resulted in a breach of Ms Fuller’s privacy.

    “As you also know, I do not accept that view. But the purpose of this letter is not to further debate the merits of our respective positions.”

    It is almost impossible to read the letter in which she describes and regrets the feral attacks on Ms Fuller but does not accept that she was “wrong” as making any sense, ethically, morally or semantically. It is self-justifying weasel juice.

    “Wrong” and “sorry” are reasonably easily understood English words, but, for some puzzling reason, they do not appear to be in Paula Bennett’s vocabulary.

    This may be the conclusion of the matter for the HRC and Ms Bennett, but the conclusion of the matter?

  5. “I acknowledge that you consider that I was wrong to do so and that this resulted in a breach of Ms Fuller’s privacy. As you also know, I do not accept that view. But the purpose of this letter is not to further debate the merits of our respective positions.”
     
    What a b****.  A non lawyer telling a former District Court Judge and very experienced lawyer that she disagrees with his legal analysis.
     
    She has just reaffirmed my intention to do whatever I can do to assist with the ending of her political career out west.

    • felix 5.1

      “What a b****. A non lawyer telling a former District Court Judge and very experienced lawyer that she disagrees with his legal analysis.”

      No contrition, no remorse. How does that usually play?

      • mickysavage 5.1.1

        How about this?  She refuses to agree to not releasing beneficiaries details in the future.

        From the article:

        “Asked if she would do the same thing again, Bennett said “it would depend on the circumstances”.

        “I’m four years in the job now, I’d have another look at it based on what the recommendations and rules are around privacy.” ”

        What can you say? 

        • Blue 5.1.1.1

          Unbelievable.

          The rules haven’t changed, Paula. It’s still illegal to release people’s private information to the media without their permission.

          It’s still hugely unethical for a government minister to blithely release confidential information to intimidate people who oppose their policies.

          How hard is it to say ‘sorry, I made a mistake and I won’t do it again?’

          I guess it’s just easier to remind everyone what a belligerent ignoramus you are.

  6. captain hook 6

    she has what is described as a pseudopodic ego that wants to reach out and engulf everything.
    too much i s never enough.

  7. BillODrees 7

     Personality “Aggressive narcissism”

    Glibness/superficial charm

    Grandiose sense of self-worth

    Pathological lying

    Cunning/manipulative

    Lack of remorse or guilt

    Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)

    Callousness; lack of empathy

    Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hare_Psychopathy_Checklist

    Bennett displays many of the behaviours of a …….
    • mike 7.1

      +1

      The worst of the tiny minority of psychopaths who actually kill with their own hands will still claim they did nothing wrong, the victims deserved it, you just don’t get it, etc. Then try to make you feel stupid or morally shallow for not agreeing. Always the same.

      • AnnaLiviaPluraBella 7.1.1

        Mike, there are many of them around. Corporate and Political life has plenty of strong and imperfect personalities. Some of us score somewhere on the attributes in the psycho list and have sufficient skills to manage it.  Others get exposed, fired, promoted or jailed. They all do damage.

        However in the Hot-House of the Beehive, where no-one disagrees to a minister’s face and plenty of staff and party idiots fawn over their every word, it is easy for it to get out of control.   Madam Bennett is on fire: a dangerous incendiary device.
         
        On one hand I pray that she inflicts no more harm on the people she is meant to serve.  On the other I’m (fatalistically) looking forward to the total explosion from her that alerts the public to her true identity.  She is a very dangerous person. 

        Micky Joe is right to want to remove her from political power. 

  8. deemac 8

    I’m sure lots of people who’ve had legal rulings go against them would like to be able to say, “I do not accept that view”. Unbelievable arrogance from a disgrace of a minister.

  9. Kotahi Tāne Huna 9

    “A higher standard from ministers” – translation: I will let this pig-ignorant bully do whatever she likes.

    • marsman 9.1

      ‘Pig-ignorant bully’ describes Bennett (and Brownlee and McCully and Parata and….) to a tee.

    • McFlock 9.2

      Privacy commissioners are like water quality scientists – I can find a dozen who would agree with me… 😉

  10. fabregas4 10

    “I do not accept that view” is straight from her leaders mouth having used it regarding the environment on HardTalk, about the rise of power prices after asset sales, after just about everything supported by academia and research but not by himself.

  11. Roy 11

    “I was personally shocked and concerned by the unpleasant, hurtful and personal comments some members of the public made about Ms Fuller. ”
    No you weren’t, Paula. They were exactly the kind of reactions you expected to elicit, and intended to elicit.

    • McFlock 11.1

      Unless she’s the sort of oik who throws a can of butane onto a couchfire and is personally shocked when it goes “bang” and sends burning splinters into someone’s eye. 
           
      Steroid-popping-record-breakingly thick, or just lying? The question that keeps appearing whenever National is in the room… 

  12. weka 12

    Ok, come on Labour, now’s your chance, show us that you don’t really think that beneficiaries are expendable scapegoats who bring their misfortune on themselves and deserve to be treated like shit by Members of Parliament.
     
    (and Greens, you should be standing up loudly on this one too).

    • gobsmacked 12.1

      The first chance came and went this in the House this afternoon:

      DAVID SHEARER to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?

      But he didn’t ask about Bennett.

      General debate is the next chance …

    • gobsmacked 12.2

      Greens, you should be standing up loudly on this one too

      From the Herald:

      “Green Party leader Metiria Turei said Mrs Bennett’s refusal to admit wrong-doing or apologise to Ms Fuller was a “very serious concern”.

      “She had no right to go into that woman’s files and expose her private information to the country.

      “By exposing that private information she drew to Ms Fuller and her children a great deal of abuse from the public.”

      Ms Turei said beneficiaries deserved to be represented by a minister who respected their private information.

      “She has not assured New Zealand that she will never do it again, and that puts all New Zealand beneficiaries at risk that if they speak out Paula Bennett will go into your files and use that personal information to attack you in public.”

      • gobsmacked 12.2.1

        OK, Shearer has spoken, that’s good:

        Stuff …

        Shearer said Fuller was abused by Bennett.

        “It was wrong, she should apologise, not just say she regrets it.”

        Fuller had come to an agreement with Bennett because she had been “damaged and hurt” and wanted the situation to go away, he said.

        Key should demand assurances from Bennett that she wouldn’t release private details again.

        “This is completely unacceptable. I would certainly not sanction this type of behaviour. My ministers would be held to a higher account than what John Key is holding his ministers to right now.”

        • framu 12.2.1.1

          also from stuff – “Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is not ruling out revealing private details of beneficiaries in the future”

          so if this is correct (after all its the media) we have a minister of the crown admitting that she wont rule out breaking the law if she feels like it in the future

        • Pascal's bookie 12.2.1.2

          Boiler plate.

          He needs to get the not just the principle out there, but the consequences of this being a precedent for acceptable ministerial behaviour.

          Go over the head of the PM and directly ask the people of NZ how they feel about having all their health, tax, & welfare records available as political fodder should they write a letter to an editor, or make a political comment on a social media site. Then say he wouldn’t stand for that behaviour, but that all other future PMs will have this precedent to fall back on unless Key acts.

          • framu 12.2.1.2.1

            bingo

          • felix 12.2.1.2.2

            That’s exactly what he should do.

            So why do have this hunch that he’ll do fucking nothing instead?

            • Pascal's bookie 12.2.1.2.2.1

              There’s a bit of a clue in that he didn’t say she should be sacked.

              • Feck.

                She should be sacked.

                Shearer should be saying this as loud as possible.

                How about this?  Clause 2.53 of the Cabinet Manual states that “… 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. Ultimately, Ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour.” 

                Bennett on the face of it broke the law and the ethics of the situation are appalling.  That should be Shearer’s soundbite.

                • Anne

                  Let’s be frank. Paula Bennett is a psychopathic, narcissistic bitch. Can you be both? I’m sure you can. She did it out of pure spite because Ms Fullar dared to question her decision. You only have to watch the woman when she’s being interviewed. The body language and the lifeless eyes give it away. She has no empathy for anyone other than for herself and what is hers. And if I ever have the chance I would stand up and tell her as much to her face.

                  So come on Shearer and Labour. Forget the PC garbage and tell it like it is. You will be surprised how much respect you gain from voters if you do…

                  • Roy

                    Not only can a person have two personality disorders at once, but such co-morbidity is very common. Or so my friendly workplace psychology major tells me.

                    • What pisses me off about this slob is that she often refers to her past as a solo mother, That she managed to better herself regardless of being a mother on her own. In fact she never ever metions that her family owned a shop and looked after her child while Bennett attended University. What a two faced creep. I can not for nthe life off me understand workig people voting for her and her ilk.

                • BillODrees

                  Does the legal concept of a writ of mandamus exist in NZ?it does in Irish and English Common Law.

                   

                  Mandamus is the name of one of the prerogative writs in the common law, and is “issued by a superior court to compel a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly.”

                   

                  Can it be applied in this situation? 

                  • xtasy

                    As far as I know that prerogative writ that has its origin in English law once used to be applied in NZ also, but certain statutes have more or less made it redundant and not used anymore.

                    It would have been used in administrative law more than anywhere else, I think, and with the introduction of the Judicature Amendment Act 1972 it is no longer applied there.

                    A judicial review would be the legal step to address administrative decisions that are disputed, but in this case I see no chance of this, as there appears to have been an out of court settlement, which usually includes an agreement, that any commenced or anticipated proceedings would have to be withdrawn by the complainant, here being Fuller.

                  • xtasy

                    What I would like to know also is, why the hell did Fuller, or anyone advising and supporting her, take the matter to the Human Rights Commission? I see it as being the wrong Commissioner that has been approached. Yes, maybe she was going on about breaches of privacy, but the Human Rights Commission is rather pre-occupied with issues of discrimination.

                    If she had gone straight to the Privacy Commissioner, and saying this, my understanding is that this was not the case, then the matter may have been looked at a bit more seriously and could have had a different outcome.

                    She should also have tried to push the issue and gone to the courts, laying a complaint against Bennett, sought legal aid for this and her chances to succeed would have been reasonably good. Indeed we could in that case have seen Bennett having been forced to resign.

                    But possible resolution out of court always come before legal proceedings anyway, as the High Court rules state.

                    This is why the Crown tends to maintain the better hand of cards in their hands, always being able to get away with a lot, by engaging any complainant or plaintiff into “settlement negotiations”. I am afraid Fuller was too stressed in the end and just had enought. Great for Bennett now, she can go on tormenting others, even after the Speaker blamed her to behave worse than a 3-year old child in Parliament today.

                    • Sarah

                      Because xtasy you have to go to the Privacy Commissioner first, then they issue you a certificate to take it to the Human Rights Tribunal. That is the correct process to address a privacy breach.

                      Bennett’s arrogance is breathtaking and I’m sure that has not gone unnoticed by most New Zealanders, and probably hasn’t won her many friends within National. Certainly the Speaker gave her a good ticking off and deservedly so.

        • Carol 12.2.1.3

          Andrew Little in Question Time today – supplementary to Collins on Cyberbullying, asked if the Bill would stop a minister trawling through claimants information and releasing private information. Collins replied that Labour should be taking the issue of cyberbullying seriously, and not being frivolous…. Really???!

        • Vicky32 12.2.1.4

          Shearer said Fuller was abused by Bennett.

          I will certainly bear this in mind the next time I hear/see the “evil right wing bene basher Shearer” meme in action, and I would hope others do too…

          • gobsmacked 12.2.1.4.1

            Yes, it was in the news today, Shearer was at Parliament today, and so he was asked about it today.

            That’s not quite the same as deciding – of all the many topics for a Labour leader to choose from – to make a speech about benefit bludging, is it?

            • Vicky32 12.2.1.4.1.1

              of all the many topics for a Labour leader to choose from – to make a speech about benefit bludging, is it?

              Having asked for a link to, and read that speech, I have to say that to me, it didn’t come near beneficiary bashing! Having been on DPB for years, and now UB (after a gap of work, that ended with the GFC) I am very sensitive to bene-bashing.
              As I have said on Open Mike today, I owe a great deal to Shearer for his intervention with WINZ on my behalf. I’d have a $4000 debt if not for him. He made them sort it out when nothing I said would make them lift a finger to correct their mistake.

              • gobsmacked

                I’m pleased for you Vicky, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Shearer is a decent electorate MP.

                Unfortunately, as leader he has taken some very bad advice, and ultimately, he is responsible for that. If he’s smart, he’ll now start putting some different anecdotes in his speeches.

                • Vicky32

                  Shearer is a decent electorate MP.

                  He is, he’s brilliant!
                  Essentially, I agree about the rest of what you say. I have heard infinitely worse in the bene bashing stakes from Nats, ACT etc, but as Helen Clark said ‘perception is reality’ – if people think Shearer is anti-benny, that’s what matters (even though I know he’s not)

        • mickysavage 12.2.1.5

          I have now stewed on this.

          It is bad enough to criticise what appears to be an imaginary sickness beneficiary for political gain.

          It is galling that a DPB recipient who now is in full time employment should be given such passive support.  Shearer should have said:

          1.  Fuller’s treatment was appalling.
          2.  Bennett should be sacked for a breach of the law and for unethical behaviour.

          There should be no process of triangulation.  If a beneficiary gets their rights trashed then Shearer should object.  No ifs, no buts.

    • glg 12.3

      Come on Labour, where are you in all this. No-one wants to see Labour passing itself off as National-Lite, but for some strange reason that is what you think people want to hear.
      What about getting back to your roots. look at Nat policies with regard to the affect they well have on people, not fighting for a mythical centre voter.

  13. Rob 13

    The woman is a disgrace but with role models like Banks et al what can one expect

  14. weka 14

    Needless to say, Bennett’s letter isn’t an apology. My heart goes out to the beneficiary and  I hope she got more from this process Bennet’s empty, disingenuous as fuck words.

  15. Bene Bennett has just said she doesn’t rule out releasing details of more beneficiaries.
    Where the hell does she get off! she is the biggest beneficiary of all in her ‘tax payer’
    paid allowances and perks.
    Her govt puts people out of work then plays stand over tactics when a benefit is
    the only way to survive,then denegrates those people suggesting they are lower
    than low for having the need for a benefit,in her own case she was well looked
    after by the state in her day,why does she continually deny dignity to those currently
    in need.
    Bennett should have appologised to the victim straight away and to all those who
    have the need for a benefit because of inept,pathetic policies of the nact govt.

  16. Justin Thyme 16

    If you look at the letter carefully it refers to Ms Fuller wanting to move on with her life and put this behind her. She seems to have copped a fair bit of abuse since it first went public a couple of years ago – perhaps she didn’t want the Director to take a case. Litigation is pretty brutal and perhaps she’d had enough.

    • framu 16.1

      dont know about you – but admitting wrong doing and apologising would be a good start in helping the parties in question move on. No?

      sure Ms Fuller might not have wanted to go through litigation – thats her choice. But that doesnt mean that a minister of the crown gets a free pass for breaking the law.

      All the “wanting to move on and put it behind” business, regardless of its truthfulness, is a smoke screen to distract from the “i dont give a stuff about your legal opinion and im not apologising” bit

      • tracey 16.1.1

        its not necessarily her choice because she may not have the resources for lawyers that ms bennett has.

  17. Bruce 17

    This was one “Shut the hell up” warning to people criticising ministers or government – shocking behaviour. She hasn’t ruled out doing it again either:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7482635/Bennett-won-t-rule-out-releasing-beneficiary-details

  18. Murray Olsen 18

    All I can see from this and the rest of what this regime does is that they truly believe they are above the law.

  19. tracey 19

    I am sorry but cyber bullying is another distraction.

    During the banks debacle the pm said it was about breaching a law. Well mr key, ms bennet breach the privacy act, thats breaking a law. Does she step down, or do we wait for the third strike?

  20. xtasy 20

    Quoted from the above, re what the HR Commissioner said:

    “The Director, Mr Robert Hesketh said, “On the basis of the Minister’s letter to me, I have agreed to close my file. The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.”

    Well, anyone who knows a bit about such matters will instantly ask: How much did they pay Ms Fuller? There is NO other explanation for this decision.

    Re Paula Bennett –

    any Minister, who employs with a clear conscience a Principal Health Advisor for MSD (Dr D. Bratt from Wellington, GP) to go around and present the following types of presentation to GP conferences, disability agencies, welfare forums – and likely also to “designated doctors” (usually GPs) he TRAINS, and who are commissioned by WINZ and MSD to examine or assess sick and disabled for benefit entitlement, does have a “hard-nosed view” of beneficiaries, no question about that:

    http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=Dr+David+Bratt+ppt&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CE0QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rgpn.org.nz%2FNetwork%2Fmedia%2Fdocuments%2FConference2011%2FD-Bratt.ppt&ei=pOMqUNyqF–QiQee4oGgBQ&usg=AFQjCNFEdYN_dDW9BAZvZo_cQpC2rFyelg&cad=rja

    http://www.gpcme.co.nz/pdf/2012/Fri_DaVinci_1400_Bratt_Medical%20Certificates%20are%20Clinical%20Instruments%20too%20-%20June%202012.pdf

    To that senior MSD staff member benefit dependency is somehow comparable to “drug dependency”!

    Also on TV3 news just a while ago, Bill English stood up for his Minister, stating something similar to the following: If anyone decides to take anything (like Fuller did ) out into the public forum for debate, they should face the consequences. The reporter stated that this may sound like a kind of threat.

    Make up your own minds – about “human rights” and “free speech” in NZ in 2012.

    P.S.: Shearer was critical, but I did not hear him correct his reference to a sickness bene roof-painter in his Nelson speech.

  21. gobsmacked 21

    People might recall a few years ago, David Benson-Pope losing his job, as a Minister and then as MP. He had overstepped the mark, but it was a minor misdemeanour compared with Bennett.

    What’s different today? All three parts of the triangle …

    1) The media grilled and harried B-P. Sean Plunket skewered him on Morning Report (fair enough, that’s an interviewer’s job. Shame they stopped doing it).

    2) The Prime Minister sacked him. Nuff said.

    3) The opposition hounded him until he was gone. They never let up.

    The implications of Bennett’s behaviour are far more serious than Benson-Pope’s. More serious than Nick Smith’s as well. The precedent has been set – and any citizen could be next.

    But I’m guessing Bennett will be let off the hook – by all three of the above. Hope I’m wrong.

    • Pascal's bookie 21.1

      English, speaking as Acting PM, pretty much said that this sets a precedent for how they’ll be acting, so people should bear that in mind if they want ot have a crack at the govt about anything.

      • bbfloyd 21.1.1

        Oh well… yet another spur to people debating whether living in new zealand is an option any more to decide to take their chances elsewhere….

        When it has become obvious to even the thickest dullard that this claytons government is hell bent on dismantling any form of real democracy, then we will have lost all the people/ opportunities to regroup, and recover the momentum that we are losing at a compounding rate….

        Unfortunately, we seem to be rapidly de-evolving back to the rednecked, bigoted, wastrels that, only a couple of generations ago, we were so proud to having grown away from…

        The fact that this pack of weasels is still enjoying majority support here is proof to anyone with a shred of decency that new zealand has not only slipped on the path to a mature society….. it has consciously embraced the great leap backwards into the tory dream….

        Paula Bennett is a sick, tasteless, joke….The pretend government she is part of is an even sicker, more tasteless joke….. New Zealand is now joining them on the world stage as the home of the little blue engine that could, but chose not to lest the wrong people got on the carriages…

  22. KJT 22

    Where is the police investigation?

    At least two serious breaches of the law.

    Whoever gave Basher the information in the first place, and second, Basher using it.

    • Draco T Bastard 22.1

      Where is the police investigation?

      Probably requires one of the victims to complain and after all they’ve been through already they probably don’t feel up to it.

      • Carol 22.1.1

        It sounds like an “out of court” settlement, so the complainants have probably agreed not to take it any further.

        But I guess Bennett (and Key) can’t admit that Bennett did wrong, because then she would be goneski.

        So the opposition parties need to keep reminding Bennett (and Key) that she was wrong.

        • Socialist Paddy 22.1.1.1

          The word on the street is that this is not the case. I hear Fuller just wanted it to end. It is really tough going into battle with a psychopath.

  23. BillODrees 23

    Shearer said Fuller was abused by Bennett.
    “It was wrong, she should apologise, not just say she regrets it.”

    Mmmmmmmmm
    Shearer said Cunliffe was abused by Mallard.

     

    “It was wrong, he should apologise, not just say regrets being seen crawling into Duncan’s ear.”

     
  24. Cin77 24

    Jesus, I just don’t know what to make of this. How can she get away with this? I’m really really concerned that we as a country will roll over and take this.

    C’mon guys, this is wrong. Its ridiculous that our government can threaten us if we disagree with them. What country is this again?

  25. Grumpy 25

    It’s not as if she was in private paid employment, she was being paid with my money, for the effective use of, I hold Bennett responsible.

    I certainly feel entitled to know how much I was paying her, especially as she bought the subject up.

    • Cin77 25.1

      Yes thats right, people mean nothing. Its all about how much it costs you in the end.

      How humane of you.

      • Grumpy 25.1.1

        No, my point is – how can it be her “privacy” when it’s my money?

        • Blue 25.1.1.1

          The health system is paid for with taxpayer money too, Grumps. Might not want to start insisting that all medical records are public because taxpayer money paid for the treatment.

        • mike 25.1.1.2

          It’s not your money stupid, it’s ours. See the difference? The difference, thankfully, means that small-minded people like you don’t get to decide the limits of privacy around the use of public services like welfare and healthcare. Those rules are there to protect the dignity of the people who use them, and to as such to ensure that anyone who needs to use them has no reason to fear coming forward.

          If a public official breaches those privacy rules they are sacked immediately that’s how serious this rightly is. (I have worked for the Min. of Health with public health records, and believe me this is drilled in to new employees big time.)

          Unless of course you are a National minister, in which case you can simply pull out the brilliant argument that: “I do not accept that view.” Then everything’s just tickety-boo.

    • Pascal's bookie 25.2

      Ooh Look. Grumpy just gave a future minister of revenue permission to release all his tax details.

    • Grumpy: Raising children isn’t work?

      And considering you’ve made several of your posts during work-hours – can we assume you aren’t in “paid employment” either and the next Left wing guvmint can release YOUR details to the public?

      Be careful what you wish for. It eventually bites you on the arse when you least expect it.

      • Grumpy 25.3.1

        I can assure you that i am in paid employment.

        If i took to the public that i have been ripped of by IRD and pay too much tax, whereas the truth was that I actually got a refund, then I would expect to be outed.

        And I am sure that would meet with approval on these pages.

        So what is the difference?

        • felix 25.3.1.1

          There’s no ifs and whereas mate, you’ve already publicly brought up the issue of how far your taxes go.

          That’s implicit consent for your deets to be released right meow.

        • lprent 25.3.1.2

          As I remember the events your analogy bears absolutely no relation to them.

          A couple of women said that a change in government policy would cause problems because it would limit the ability of women from trying to get off the DPB. The minister concerned releases details that are meant to be held private, showing that the women concerned had indeed used the services concerned that they were saying would be lost.

          Please demonstrate your pretzel bending abilities. You notice that Bennett hasn’t opened her records up? I can’t see you arguing that should happen on the same basis that you’re arguing is fair enough for Fuller. For that matter since you’re claiming taxpayer status for your interest I demand to see your tax records to see how much you are deducting. I I’ll leave itto Bennett to explain why this is relevant…

          BTW: Long long before the minister used the same facilities she was destroying to get off the DPB, my sister used them. She trained for a return to the workforce after winding up having to raise two kids under the age of 5 when her marriage collapsed. I know quite a few people who did the same thing – all extremely successful and mostly having long since paid back far far tax than they ever consumed.

          Winding up with several years of involuntarily living on minimal income raising kids destroys any skills that require continual honing. Not retraining is really expensive because it drops the tax take (and you and I wold have paid more)

          As far as I am concerned Paula Bennett should be slung into jail for the privacy abuse.

          • Grumpy 25.3.1.2.1

            Been working all day, and i hate this bloody iPad.

            My view is simply that if you accept public (my) money, you have no right to privacy as it is MY money and I have a right to know where it goes.

            On that basis, Bennetts file (as it applies to her getting MY money) should also be public domain.

            As for DPB, I agree that it is the most essential of benefits. my own daughter is currently getting it as an interim step to getting a job – which she is now getting into part time.

            i can assure you, that if she was silly enough to get sucked into a Labour political stunt, she would get no sympathy from me if her details were released.

            • fatty 25.3.1.2.1.1

              i want to know all about your daughter right now. she has no right to privacy.

              • Descendant Of Smith

                “i want to know all about your daughter right now. she has no right to privacy.”

                Can’t say that any better than this.

                And Grumpy it’s not your money – but you already know that – any more than it’s my money building those useless roads.

              • Grumpy

                Read what i said, if she went public, using her situation as a political gimmick and misrepresented that situation, then i would support you.

                In fact anyone in the same situation should declare their position to strengthen their argument. If Fuller had done that, there would have been no issue, oh, apart from stuffing up Labour’s argument that is.

                • McFlock

                  My view is simply that if you accept public (my) money, you have no right to privacy as it is MY money and I have a right to know where it goes.

                  So your view is slightly more complex than this? 

                  Maybe something more along the lines of: 

                  My view is simply that if you accept public (my) money, you have no right to privacy if you express a political opinion as it is MY money and I have a right to know where it goes and use that knowledge as a political weapon and bullying tactic against you and everyone like you.  

                   

                • fatty

                  Human Rights Commission concludes that Bennett breached privacy

                  I’m pretty sure you said: “No, my point is – how can it be her “privacy” when it’s my money?”
                  …I guess your bigotry is not so palatable when its applied to your daughter?

            • lprent 25.3.1.2.1.2

              You do know where it goes. That is what accounts and budgets are for. There is a hell of a difference between those and wanting to know the details of each transaction.

              Tell me, do you expect to have the same details of investments or shares in companies that you are not managing? Or SOE’s. Or defense force deployments. Or donations to charities. Or transaction details of body corporates. In fact just about anything that money gets spent on.. Of course not. Some of these are public money. Some are private. Some you are forced to use. Some you choose.

              All have privacy limits and all report in aggregate rather than transactions.

              So what makes the personal details of beneficiaries so special. Are they easier to bully? Providing a reason to gossip as you speculate how they wash their underclothes? I’m afraid that I find the reasons for people not managing or auditing to pore over transactions somewhat puriently obsessional.

              And the iPad is just a tool. Somewhat irritating. By a damn sight easier to do he be whilst watching the idiot box…

            • rosy 25.3.1.2.1.3

              My view is simply that if you accept public (my) money, you have no right to privacy as it is MY money and I have a right to know where it goes.

              Good luck telling te SIS that… Oh and by the way I’ll just go and pick up the records from your counselling session at the local public hospital, okay?

            • Draco T Bastard 25.3.1.2.1.4

              My view is simply that if you accept public (my) money, you have no right to privacy as it is MY money and I have a right to know where it goes.

              It’s not your money – it’s the states and, even if it was your money, you still wouldn’t have any right to know the details that Paula Bennett released.

  26. prism 26

    Petulant Bean looks a bit like Bishope Brian Tamaki in that pic.

  27. Glg 27

    And I am assuming the mainstream press will just ignore this palling woman’s behaviour. If this had happened while Labour was in power the press would have been frothing at the mouth. Seriously, this will slide under the radar along with every other dirty duplicitous action this goverment has taken.

  28. BR 28

    “It’s not your money – it’s the states…..”

    The money belongs to the NZ taxpayer.

    The money Ms Fuller gets does NOT belong to her. She is permitted to use it to survive, that is all.

    The taxpayers of NZ have every right to know how their money is being spent.

    Paula Bennett should certainly not be apologizing to Ms Fuller. Ms Fuller should shut the hell up and show some gratitude for the money she is receiving.

    Bill.

    • xtasy 28.1

      Bill, I hope that one day you lose all, face the bridge to cover shelter from rain and hail, the bare sky, have no dollar in your pocket, and have not sympathy from anyone, just as a large number of the people you frown on have to face every day and week!

      It is truly unbelievable to what degree NZ society has sunk, so that such divisions as evident these days are simply accepted and even enforced.

      I know of people having been treated appalingly by state agencies, in some cases taken them to court, and got “settlements” and compensation for harm and injustices done.

      So is someone does that to you, I suppose you expect NO sympathy, no justice, NO help and will just bitterly work it all out yourself?

      If there was a NAZI Party in NZ, I realise week by week, it would have substantial numbers signing up, and you would apparently be one of the first to do so, right?

    • Carol 28.2

      The money Ms Fuller gets does NOT belong to her. She is permitted to use it to survive, that is all.

      The taxpayers of NZ have every right to know how their money is being spent.

      Thank-you for allowing beneficiaries to breathe.

      Paula Bennett also is paid by tax payer money and, particularly to be responsible for WINZ and the people who require it’s services. WINZ has a code of conduct not to breach claimants’ privacy. Bennett breached that code.

      • xtasy 28.2.1

        Carol, for what she delivers, she is higly “over paid”, if I may mention, as she gets hundreds of thousands, I heard about 5 grand a week!

        So while she goes around dishing out, same as some of her supporters (see “Bill” above), she lives a leisurely life in luxury, being a mercenary to a corrupt government and an increasingly “corrupt” country (I know what I am talking about, as I have ample evidence)!

        So tax payers should be furious about Bennett, rather than people in deserved need!

    • Murray Olsen 28.3

      Actually Pill, once she gets the money it’s noone else’s business how she spends it. Take your dominatrix state fantasies elsewhere.
      If you can’t see that citizens should be able to criticise government policies without having their details illegally aired in public, you might feel more at home in North Korea, to borrow a line that RWNJs love to use.

      • Carol 28.3.1

        Indeed. it gets tiresome to keep explaining to misinformed right wingers about the role of taxes in a society; a society that succeeds through co-operative efforts. And it is tiresome to keep explaining the importance of democracy and freedom of speech to criticise the government. They just can’t seem to see beyond “me” and “It’s mine”, and “SHOW ME THE MONEY” etc, to see all the things that benefit the greater good.

        As a taxpayer, I want everyone in NZ to be able to live a reasonable life. Fuller criticised Bennett and the government for taking away the study allowances that Bennett benefited from when she was a single parent on a benefit. Do we get to see how Bennett spent that money?

        And, Mr Bill, (as by implication that you are not on a benefit, you must be in paid work), you have benefited financially from taxpayer funding of education, health, transport etc, that have enabled you to get a liveable income. Can you please post details of your income and your weekly budget here so that we can all see that you are making good use of that financial benefit?… seeing as you seem to think we all should have access to such information about each other.

    • Pascal's bookie 28.4

      That’s some seriously ignorant stuff BR.

      “Taxpayer”. That’s just someone who pays tax. You pay tax to the Crown, you are a taxpayer.

      Once you have paid that tax, it belongs to the Crown. End of story.

      Don’t believe me? Try rocking on up to the IRD and demanding some of that money you think you own’ as a taxpayer’, tell me how you get on.

      What an absolute load of fucking horseshit.

      The money Ms Fuller gets does NOT belong to her.

      Of course it bloody does. Welfare payments are entitlements. By law. If you qualify for the money, it is yours, as of right. Again, just breathtaking ignorance.

      The taxpayers of NZ have every right to know how their money is being spent.

      You might want to read up on the privacy act, not to mention the various acts pertaining to the intelligence services, just an example. You also might want to check out the limits to the OIA, ie exemptions and grounds not to disclose information. Your right to know how the Crown spends the money it collects in taxes is not absolute.

      These are long established matters of law, if you don’t like that, lobby to get the laws changed.

    • weka 28.5

      “The money Ms Fuller gets does NOT belong to her.”
       
      Actually it does. Once entitlement is established, and the money is in her account, it can’t be taken back unless there has been a mistake in establishing entitlement (and even then, if the mistake is WINZ’s it’s not necessarily able to take the money back). Bennett (or you, or WINZ) couldn’t take money off Fuller, because the money belongs to Fuller. 
       
      You may not like having a welfare system, but nevertheless the way things stand now, beneficiaries have as much legal right to their income as anyone else.

  29. BR 29

    What we have here on this blog is not dissimilar to a menagerie of farmyard animals, all hissing, mooing and braying their disapproval at something they do not like. This is a left wing blog. A herd mentality prevails.

    The overriding justification of Fuller’s position is based on legalism. If it’s legally right, it must be morally right.

    Laws are made by politicians. Politicians are highly paid and enjoy many perks. Those perks have been awarded to politicians by politicians; you know, free airline travel for life, that sort of thing.

    It is reasonable to assume then that all those who believe that unemployment beneficiaries should be able to conceal their financial affairs from public scrutiny would similarly endorse the politicians’ perks, high salaries, and other political self-serving legislation simply because they are sanctioned by law.

    Have I got that about right?

    Bill.

    • lprent 29.1

      Actually no. At several levels your analogy is quite dumb, so presumably are you because you don’t let reality get in the way of a good bit of stupid mythology.

      Different species seldom herd together, and I have never seen it happen in farms. Just think for a second if the worn in grooves of you bigotry allow for that. Sheep don’t like getting trampled by cows, cows hate being tripped by anything. Chickens don’t really herd – they scatter. But ducks do and they betray their Dino ancestry by being bloody obnoxious to every non duck close to them. Goats herd but are absolutely never going in the direction of any other type of animal – they always break away. Your analogy is pretty damn flawed and really just shows your lack of farming experience.

      And as far as I can see virtually no one commenting here herds. They just argue and bicker pretty much as parties of one. Which is why the number of comments keeps increasing in a slow geometrical progression. Some seem to make a virtue of just disagreeing out of some principle. This is what the left has always done. They build strength out of diversity rather than regimentation.

      If you want people struggling for the same objectives and herding in their behaviour then look at business. Having a single objective like profit causes most business people to have a certain cloned behavioural similarity. Moving between business and left politics as I do, you really notice the diversity across the left..

      If you want human herding behaviour on local media then try kiwiblog, whaleoil, or talkback. Basically anywhere that you find guru effects and dumbarse followers who don’t like thinking for themselves.

      • Murray Olsen 29.1.1

        All Bill wants is to get banned so he can go back to Whalespew and say how nasty we all are, hiding behind our anonymity. This, and the fact that his brain cells have failed to display any collective behaviour, explain his posting here.

        • lprent 29.1.1.1

          He is actually one of the more rational ones and has 51 comments. Most of the onslaughts of whale followers fail the unstrenuous test of first time commentators. Their spanking new handle has to write a comment that argues a point, even a point that the moderators don’t like, and doesn’t mindlessly repeat something that we have seen a thousand times before.

          This is the basic troll test and many fail it. And we even let through attacks on the site if they are well written and show some original thought. BR’s comment would have passed that test because it was articulate, had an opinion, and argued a point.

          We’re uninterested in hosting commentary from automata here and there are spambots around that write more interesting, pointed and individualistic comments than the majority of comments that whale triggered on to the site today.

          BR is a genius of the genre. So don’t judge him too harshly. I suspect he spends more time on no minister or kiwiblog than whales site.

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