Paula Bennett is trying, unsuccessfully, to dig herself out of her hole by arguing that the Privacy Commissioner’s website said the solo mums she’s bullied had given “implied consent” for their personal financial details to be released in the media.
Actually, Paula, that’s not the case at all. In fact, the Privacy Commission’s checklist for Ministers and departmental officials has an example directly on point:
6. Someone goes to the media about a Department’s decision to stop their benefit and is quoted as saying it shows the unfairness of the policy.
The Minister could comment in a way that discloses no further information than is already in the report (for instance explaining how the policy is designed to apply and why it says what it does). If the individual has misrepresented the facts on which the Department’s actions were based, the Minister could say that there are some undisclosed facts which give a somewhat different picture and, if the individual would authorise release of further details from the Department’s files, the Minister would be happy to oblige. Again, these facts could be set out in a letter to the individual and the media duly informed.
So, nope, she wasn’t allowed to release that info. She’s also breached the cabinet manual. Time for Paula to go.
Update: Good piece from Lew at Kiwipolitico too.
Update 2: More at No Right Turn.