Labour says it would run a Royal Commission into the
public sector to address issues such as bullying of civil
servants by ministers and to combat the threat of creeping
corruption, state services spokeswoman Maryan Street says.
Speaking to the Institute of Public Administration in
Wellington today Ms Street said the public service had lost
much of its protections against corruption in recent years.
The public sector had "lost the courage required of a neutral
professional public service" which could combat "creeping
corruption", she said.
She attributed that to a misuse of ministerial power,
directing criticism at former ACC Minister and current
Conservation Minister Nick Smith and Transport Minister Gerry
"Whether it's the misuse of a ministerial letterhead, whether
it's telling Fish and Game that 'I'm going to curtail your
legal mandate and funding unless you stop irritating me with
your free and frank advice', whether it's saying to an
airport security official, 'Look I'm the minister I'm running
late, can I just get on this plane'."
Public servants felt they could less readily give free and
frank advice to ministers for fear of the repercussions and
"ministers fiddle with appointments".
"We've lost sight of the state sector's function to protect
the citizenry from the excesses of executive power and
deliver effective services with commitment principal and
"In short I believe our state sector is actually in a
precarious position and a one in 100 year jolt is necessary
to refocus it."
State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman was also at the
conference, and took issue with Ms Street's description of Mr
Brownlee's recent use of a side door at Christchurch Airport
to bypass to try and get on a flight in time.
"That's well off the topic. That's not a fact."
He was just as dismissive of the need for a Royal Commission.
"We definitely don't need a very wasteful commission of
inquiry into issues which Parliament has just gone over very
"We've been through all that thoroughly with the review of
the legislation which Labour actually supported", he said in
reference to a legislative rejig of the public sector which
was passed in 2012.
He said Ms Street's comments were an attack on the integrity
of the public service.
- By Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald