Inquiry after confidential Cabinet papers leaked

Christopher Luxon has admitted he was holidaying in Hawaii last week despite his social media...
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. Photo: RNZ
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says an investigation has begun into how a confidential Cabinet paper made it into the public domain.

Luxon said he had confidence in his Cabinet, and that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) had proactively decided to investigate the leak.

“I have every confidence in my Cabinet. What I have been informed is that MBIE, on their own volition, started up an investigation. That is good they are taking it seriously and they are acting swiftly about it.”

The Chief Executive of MBIE, Carolyn Tremain said “MBIE takes any unauthorised disclosure of information very seriously”.

“I have commissioned an investigation that covers the possible source of the leak. It is the intention it is conducted promptly, and a timeframe is in the process of being confirmed.

“it will also involve agencies who had access to the Cabinet paper and MBIE will be asking these agencies to participate.

“I have no further comment to make at this time while the investigation is underway,” she said.

The paper was published on Monday night by Newshub. The New Zealand Herald has also obtained a copy of the paper.

It is embarrassing for the government to have been hit with a serious leak so soon after it took office.

The paper related to Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), the former Labour government’s key industrial relations achievement, but which National and Act promised to repeal.

FPAs would have marked a return to sector-wide collective bargaining, allowing unions to negotiate agreements between workers and employers that would set a floor in terms of pay and conditions. These would include minimum pay, overtime and penalty rates, leave entitlements, and access to training and development opportunities.

Six employment sectors including the likes of bus drivers and supermarket workers had successfully applied to begin negotiating an FPA; however, it is now likely that none will be concluded before the FPA legislation is repealed.

The paper included a fairly scathing assessment of what repeal would mean for people on low incomes, particularly women, Māori, Pacific people, and young people who were “more likely than other groups to earn low wages”.

“Disabled people experience significant disadvantage in the labour market, which includes earning less than non-disabled employees.

“Given these populations are disproportionately represented in workforces where there are lower employment terms, they could have disproportionately benefited from any improved terms obtained by an FPA,” the paper said, noting that this would depend on whether those people actually worked in a sector covered by an FPA.

Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff said the leaked paper showed the government was ignoring the impact on workers in a cost-of-living crisis.

“By pushing forward with this, Luxon is taking money directly from the pockets of hundreds of thousands of hardworking Kiwis. This comes after last week, where the NZCTU discovered that the Government was prioritising paying out $3 billion for landlords.”

Labour’s workplace relations spokeswoman Camilla Belich said the fact the new Cabinet was leaking is “highly concerning”.

“Instead of helping people with the cost of living like National promised during the campaign, they’re taking away the opportunity of fair wages, pay and conditions right before Christmas.”