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Posts Tagged ‘Privacy Commissioner’

Gerry Brownlee – “In the public interest”

24 March 2012 3 comments

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Are we being treated as children by National’s Gerry Brownlee?

It certainly appears so, when he refuses to release information relating to the Ports of Auckland dispute. It appears that any information Brownlee is witholding is being done because it would be embarressing to National.

Let’s be upfront here; National leaks information when it suits their agenda.

The Nick Smith/Bronwyn Pullar situation is one example. Who leaked Pullar’s name and details to the media?

Who leaked Michelle Boag’s email, that had been sent to ACC Minister Judith Collins (and subsequentlyt forwarded to ACC)?

It could only have been one of two ‘players’ in this politi-drama; ACC or a Minister of the Crown. My money is on the latter.

And now, in the last 24 hours, we have the leaking of pay and conditions of MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs &  Trade) staff to the media. Again, judging by the detailed nature of the information leaked, it could only have emanted from a Ministerial desk.

And in July 2009, we had the open release of  Natasha Fuller and   Jennifer Johnston’s WINZ details to the media, by Welfare Minister, Paula Bennet.

The condemnation of Bennett’s unethical behaviour led to complaints to the Privacy Commissioner (still awaiting resolution).

I suspect that the odium laid upon Bennett’s head over her abuse of Ministerial power served as a warning to other National ministers. Now, instead of releasing information openly, they now do it through  clandestine means, employing third parties such as feral bloggers.

It is obvious that Brownlee has something to hide – that is the only interpretation of his outright refusal to release information to the public. (Information, by the way, which we taxpayers have paid for.)  Brownlee is hiding information that is most like embarressing and could shed some light on the machinations of POAL management, Board, and ministerial involvement.

After all, if the information wasn’t potentially damaging to Brownlee and National – wouldn’t it  have served their purposes to have released it by now?

In fact, wouldn’t they have leaked it already?

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Related Blogposts

Gerry Brownlee – Diplomat

Finland, some thoughts

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Hypocrisy – thy name be National

13 November 2011 21 comments

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Most of us remember the situation of  Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers, who protested at the canning of the Training Incentive Allowance that was specifically set up to allow single-parents to upskill and enable them to find jobs for themselves.

The Training Incentive Allowance was used by a personal friend of mine, who was on the domestic purposes benefit,  to obtain qualifications as a teacher; land a job at a primary school; and earn a salary. Instead of receiving a welfare benefit, she now pays taxes.

Paula Bennett, the Minister of Social Welfare, did precisely the same and used the Training Incentive Allowance to pay her way through University. As I wrote in an earlier piece, Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy, this was Ms Bennet’s own circumstances,

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A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…

  • Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
  • Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
  • All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
  • Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ benefit)
  • Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA – a taxpayer-funded benefit

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As is their right in a democratic society which values freedom of expression, Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston both challenged Bennett on her decision to axe the TIA. They reminded Ms Bennett that the TIA was designed to get people of the DPB, and reminded Ms Bennett that she herself had used this allowance for her own betterment.

Paula Bennett did not take kindly to this criticism. On 27 July 2009, Bennett instructed her staff to release sensitive, personal details of both women’s WINZ payments.

It was a gross abuse of ministerial power.  It was an attempt to bully the two women into submission, using the reactionary, red neck abuse from certain misogynistic elements in our society. (And those elements duly obliged.)

On 11 August 2009, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff confirmed that a complaint had been laid with her office over Bennett’s releasing of the two women’s details.

The releasing of the Human Right’s document, as outlined by TV3,  has ‘upset’  the Prime Minister who feels that Paula Bennett’s “human rights” have been breached,

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John Key says,

It’s a bit odd when something’s before the Human Rights Commission and yet the Human Rights of one of the parties seems to have been breached.” Source

Pardon?!

It seems outrageous that John Key is not as concerned that one of his Ministers – sworn under oath to uphold the laws of the land – released private information to “destroy” the credibility of her critics (Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston).

Or is using peoples’ private details to discredit them, if they dare criticise the government, now acceptable practice?

This government does not take kindly to criticism. This list outlines just some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided;

July 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspirational-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

Whilst “Bomber” Bradbury and Ms Malcolm were not directly attacked by this government,  actions taken against them were made as a direct result of criticising John Key.

Quite simply, it is apparent that one criticises this government, and especially John Key, at some risk to themselves.  New Zealanders should be appalled. This is what is known as going down the road to a Police State.

If you are reading this and are starting to feel uneasy – rest assured, that is a normal response.

It is people who think this is all ok, that worries the hell out of me.

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