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NRT: John Key pisses on public service independence

Written By: - Date published: 3:23 pm, July 4th, 2014 - 30 comments
Categories: john key, public services - Tags: , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn.

One of the core principles of our public service is that Ministers have no role in staffing decisions. This is not the era of Seddon, where a Minister can hire or fire at will, and stack “their” department with cronies and time-servers regardless of merit. Instead, for over a century, public sector heads have been statutorily independent in such matters.

John Key has just pissed all over that principle:

The official who let the Malaysian Government believe New Zealand was comfortable with a diplomat accused of attempted rape going home, should consider their career options, the prime minister says.


Prime Minister John Key has backed both Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Mfat chief executive John Allen on the handling of the incident, but he has signalled repeatedly that he could not understand how an official could have given any sign that the position was unclear, given New Zealand’s sound legal system and the seriousness of the allegations.

“If that person doesn’t have clarity about that position then they need to think very strongly about whether they’re in the right job,” Key said, adding that the situation had added to the distress of the victim.

Key said the official had created the ambiguity.

“That led to a situation that is unacceptable to me, and I think it is very distressing for the woman,” he said.

The message is clear: the Prime Minister wants them to resign or be sacked. Its a direct attempt to pressure MFAT’s CEO on a decision in which they are statutorily independent, and it irrevocably taints any inquiry, in that any decision to discipline or terminate the employee will be seen as the inquiry merely doing the Prime Minister’s bidding. Such an improper intervention doesn’t just expose the government to legal risk – Key has just given the employee an excellent case for constructive dismissal – it also directly violates Cabinet Manual guidance on interactions with the public service.

But as we’ve already seen, violating the Cabinet Manual is a problem for Key. A “higher standard” of government? I think not.


30 comments on “NRT: John Key pisses on public service independence”

  1. Tom Jackson 1

    I thought it had been plain for a while now that the right’s attitude is that it can do whatever it wants.

  2. Pasupial 2

    I have seen that; violating the Cabinet Manual is NOT a problem for Key.

    A good post, just a shame you flubbed the punchline.

  3. BLiP 3

    [sigh]. . . cue the fawning MSM falling over itself in an orgy of praise for John Key showing some steel and firm leadership . . . yadda yadda yadda . . .

    Thing is, if it wasn’t for the fact that John Key personally and his National Ltd­™ gang government were made to look like the oblivious lying incompetent twats that they are the public servant involved would never have been victimised like this. John Key is all about under-resourcing the public service so as to generate poor service to tax payers and, thus, justify the increasing privatisation of core government functions. Its just that this time National Ltd™’s strategy backfired on it. You won’t find any under-resourcing in those sections of the public service which serves National Ltd™ ministers directly. Perhaps the best example of that is the protection services which, IIRC, has blown its budget every year since John Key decided he quite liked the thrill of having body guards around. He even took them on holiday with him . . . and lied about it saying he had no choice.

  4. Tracey 4

    2.53 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. Ultimately, Ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour.

  5. I think we all recognise there needs to be an Inquiry into what happened – but a proper one, not a whitewash.

    Sign up here if you agree – it should send an email off to the OAG.


    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      “…but but but but Lllllaaaabbbbbooooouuuuurrrr!”

      Your comment is now being used as toilet paper.

      • Chooky 6.1.1

        “Your comment is now being used as toilet paper.”….i hope you printed it out and didnt wipe your bum on the computer screen

        • Colonial Viper

          oh dear…and I hope its not a laptop screen with the webcam built-in as the NSA has quite the shots right now

    • McFlock 6.2

      Go on. Explain why a staff member making a phone call of their own bat is the same as the Prime Minister advising a specific staff member to quit or be fired, in a press conference, before a so-called “independant” inquiry has even started.


      • Tracey 6.2.1

        sylands has been very precious about this mfat issue… revealed quite a bit about himself unwittingly of course.

    • freedom 6.3


      srylands, framu is still waiting for an answer to a very straightforward question . .

      “but what do you think about key sticking his big oaffish foot into this – key is directly involving himself in operational matters to the point where he is potentially breaking employment law – whats your opinion of that?”

      to framu- hope you don’t mind the prompting on your behalf

  6. veutoviper 7

    Stuff now has up two articles posted late this afternoon – the latest at 5pm which names the MFAT official who appears to be the one in the line of fire. This article is one that was published early this morning, but which has been extensively updated.


    The official concerned, or rather the person’s position, was also ‘outed’ in a Herald article this morning – see my earlier comment on the ‘Lets play blame the public servant’ post


    Stuff also has another article posted mid-afternoon on Labour’s view and that of the PSA, that Key’s various statements etc have now compromised the investigation and the official’s employment rights.


    As pointed out in my earlier comment, McCully and Key appear to be repeating the interference and sullying of MFAT officials that occurred in the earlier Rebstock enquiry into the MFAT leaks.

    • Tracey 7.1

      which means a negotiated settlement which wont be revealed due to the confidentiality of employment process. irony much?

  7. dimebag russell 8

    the only principle National has is pissing on any one they dont like.
    thats who they are.

  8. fisiani 9

    is anyone here claiming that the official was blameless and competent. If you stuff up and embarrass your boss his boss and his boss does anyone think they should be forgiven.

    • mickysavage 9.1

      I don’t know the background fisi. I want to know the background before making my mind up on this issue. Seems Key is not hampered by this consideration.

    • Nordy 9.2

      You just don’t get it do you fisiani.

      The point of an inquiry is clarify and confirm what happended and why – to determine accountability.

      Do you not understand the concept of ‘natural justice’, or even simply justice?

      Of course given your blind faith in ‘teamkey’ I can understand you having difficulty with such ‘complicated’ and democratic concepts – but really – you should at least try to be less obvious.

    • Weepu's beard 9.3

      I’d like to know why those three bosses were so disinterested in the case. Odd, seeing it was so important and sensitive.

  9. fisiani 10

    inNZ a fuck up of this magnitude usually meansthat someone resigns. Thank goodness this is not Japan.

    • McFlock 10.1

      you would say that. In Japan the Prime Minister would have resigned.
      In most other countries the PM would resign.

    • mickysavage 10.2

      So Fisi who should resign? McCully or Key?

  10. dimebag russell 11

    but either way they will be gone on September 20th,

  11. philj 12

    Less public service from this corporate interest group I.e ‘government’.Time to get rid!

  12. philj 13

    The boss is always right….. you’re sacked J K! We ( the people) are the boss not you!

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