I watched Paula Bennett and her MSD CEO make excuses and say sorry yesterday as they revealed that they had let the personal data of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders sit in the open at WINZ kiosks – and it’s all still open to anyone working at MSD. I didn’t hear either of them offer their resignations. What do they think we pay them for other than ensuring their department runs well and these things don’t happen?
It is typical of the neoliberal religion and this government in particular that the bucks go to the top but the buck doesn’t stop there.
But what do you expect? Paula Bennett set the standard for MSD’s handling of private data when it gave her the private data of two political opponents and she leaked it. The Prime Minister told his ministers and public service what his attitude was when he applauded Bennett.
The traditional sense that with power and reward comes responsibility has been thrown by the wayside. In the past, and in other countries, the CEO and Bennett would have tendered their resignations in an instant. Maybe they wouldn’t have been accepted but they would have at least acknowledged that the reason we pay them so much is to make sure things go well and if they don’t go well, then they are accountable and stand to lose their access to the gravy train.
Is it unreasonable to expect a minister and a CEO to be across everything? Only as unreasonable as it is to pay them ten times plus more than the average person’s income. They get their super-human pay because they are meant to be held to extraordinarily high levels of accountability and work like the devil to ensure that the appropriate systems are in place to ensure things don’t go wrong. Their job is to prevent failures from happening – it is a positive duty to stop failures, not a duty to not cause failures. When failures happen they are meant to go.
It seems under the absent leadership of John Key, however, that ministers and senior government ministers get paid to turn up and eat their lunch and anything that happens below them can’t possibly by their responsibility. It’s a disgrace.