Iain Rennie

Troughers are what Troughers Do

Andrea Vance  reports on some gold plated toughing.

Taxpayers are stumping up for Pacific Island Affairs boss Pauline Winter to travel between Wellington and Auckland most weekends.

Winter has a home in Westmere, but her $240,000-a-year job is based in the capital.

Her expense records show that over the last year she flew between the two cities almost every weekend. Between July 2013 and 2014, her expenditure totalled more than $30,000, most of which went on airfares, taxis and rental car hire in Wellington and Auckland.

However, State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie insists that Winter does not commute and that she has a residence in Wellington.

“I expect the chief executive to travel regularly between MPIA’s offices in Wellington and Auckland and to attend meetings and events with the Pacific Island community . . .

“I am assured by Ms Winter that all her travel expenses are for legitimate purposes related to the core business of the ministry and are in accordance with MPIA’s policies and processes.”

The ministry is also paying for private secretary Luc Shorter to commute between Auckland and Wellington, and is footing his accommodation bill.

His Twitter profile says he lives on Waiheke Island and insiders say he is billeted at serviced apartments on The Terrace, costing around $1800 a month.

Shorter, executive director Kevin Sua Thomsen and regional manager Paul Stowers were hired by Winter last year without the roles being advertised. ¬† Read more »

Tick Tock for Applicant A

Labour’s snitch has just lost his bid to avoid being held to account…it is only a matter of time now before he is named and his former connections are laid bare for all to see:

A clerical assistant suspected of leaking two confidential cabinet papers to the Labour Party has lost his Court of Appeal bid to challenge the findings of the Paul Rebstock inquiry into the leaks.

However the court has continued suppression orders on the suspect, known as Applicant A, his name and where he worked at the time of the leak and previously.

It is his previous work that will provide interest.

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie says he will challenge those suppression orders, assuming that Ms Rebstock’s final report confirms her draft findings. ¬† Read more »

PM hits back

John Key has hit back at “knucklehead” journalists. I note the scrutiny the media are placing on a phone call is far more excessive than the scant regard they placed on finding out the truth behind Shearer’s millions sitting in a “forgotten” bank account:

“The one lesson, and this is this lesson I’ve got to learn for the journalists as well, because I accept this now, there will be no more answering questions straight away if I need to get details.”

A recruitment company came up with a shortlist of candidates for the boss of the GCSB, but the list was rejected by State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie.

Rennie suggested to the Prime Minister that he look for more candidates, and he took his advice.¬† Read more »

Getting the Job Done

Labour, rank hypocrites when it comes to nepotism, need I remind you about all the cushy directorships their president held, are cutting up rough over the appointment of Ian Fletcher to GCSB.

Labour has hit out over Prime Minister John Key’s involvement in the appointment of spy agency boss Ian Fletcher and says it “reeks of cronyism”.

But Key said today he was “totally” comfortable with the process.

“Its pretty normal, this is a small country,” he said.

Fletcher, head of the secretive Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), was not short-listed for the job at the Government’s foreign spy agency – but applied after a phone call from Key.¬† Read more »

PMs dog shared dosing strip with Spy Boss’ missus’ dog

Good grief!

So is the standard for Labour now that everyone has to declare who their parents were matey with, and the brothers of people they went to school with ?

Desperate conspiracy theory stuff.  How much is in the account David?

New Zealand’s top spy Ian Fletcher and Prime Minister John Key – now his boss and also responsible for Mr Fletcher’s agency the GCSB – knew each other as children, it emerged yesterday.

Mr Key was downplaying the closeness of his relationship with Mr Fletcher after it emerged in Parliament yesterday, but Green MP Steffan Browning claims the friendship is a long standing one maintained over years since the pair were at school.

Labour Deputy Leader Grant Robertson yesterday quizzed Mr Key on what role he played in recommending Mr Fletcher as director of the Government Communications and Security Bureau before he was appointed in late 2011.¬† Read more »

Longstone resigns, Is Hekia next?

Lesley Longstone has fallen on her sword for all the stuff ups in Education:

Secretary of Education Lesley Longstone has resigned following a series of problems including the class size debacle and the implementation of the Novopay pay system.

Former Public Service chief executive Peter Hughes has been seconded as Acting Chief Executive and Secretary for Education, and will take up his role from 9 February.

The State Services Commission will advertise for the permanent role in the New Year.

“Following very careful thought and discussion, Lesley and I have decided that the best interests of the Ministry would be served by her stepping down and the appointment of a new Chief Executive,” State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie said in a statement.

Longstone’s biggest mistake was trying to play stroppy civil servant and Princess Hekia didn’t like or enjoy that. She is not one to brook people showing her up.

One wonders though when she will fall on her sword. The word around the beltway is that though John Key would like to see the back of Hekia Parata and her never-ending omnishambles performance he feels he can’t axe her because he was the one who waxed lyrical about her abilities and doesn’t want any splash back.

Instead of pushing the inept David Carter forwards into the Speakership so he can rehabilitate Nick Smith, perhaps he should knife Hekia to achieve the same aims.

What I do wonder though is if John Key of Merrill Lynch would have tolerated such ineptitude from his staff? Somehow I doubt it. She would have been shown the exit and told her belongings will be sent on by courier.

John Key the Prime Minister though seems to have become squeamish in dealing with subordinates who fail to fire.

Fran isn’t reassured

Fran O’Sullivan isn’t at all reassured by Adam Feeley’s¬†groveling¬†email or ticking off by the SSC:

…we now know courtesy of State Services Commission (SSC) boss Iain Rennie that toasting the Bridgecorp fraud prosecution with a bottle of the directors’ Gosset champagne is not a sacking offence as far as he is concerned. Neither was the decision to hand out a biography of the late Allan Hubbard at the SFO’s Christmas party, even though the failed Timaru financier was still under investigation at that time.

Feeley’s actions were merely “ill-advised” and showed a “lack of judgment”. But, said Rennie, the SFO’s performance had improved under Feeley’s leadership. The SSC boss would talk to him about the standards he expected of government chief executives.

Fundamentally, Rennie has failed to address the real issue.

The police and criminal bar have raised valid concerns that Feeley’s antics have contaminated the SFO’s integrity – particularly its reputation for unbiased judgment.

Clearly Fran is unimpressed with the State Services Commissioner.

Feeley’s reputation is that of a self-promoting gunslinger who “shoots from the lip”. There has been growing dismay within his own office for some time over the way SFO staffers have felt themselves compromised by their boss’s cavalier approach. But none of this features in the SSC statement.

Feeley has flicked an emailed apology to Police Minister Judith Collins for causing her embarrassment. But the people he should be apologising to are his staff. And in person.

If I am reading Feeley correctly, he won’t have been too fazed by Rennie’s mild censure. But he would be wise not to go on a witch hunt within his own office to try to get to the series of leaks which undermined his authority in recent weeks.

Unfortunately a witch-hunt is well underway¬†at god knows how much of a cost. PWC doesn’t come cheap. Fortunately it will all be searchable under the OIA, including the engagement letters/contracts/emails.

Waikato Times on Five Fingers Feeley

The Waikato Times editorial yesterday was scathing:

We can be sure how Minister of Police Judith Collins would have reacted, because she is minister in charge of the SFO. She is reported to have been concerned when she learned Mr Feeley had toasted the charging of Bridgecorp directors Rod Petricevic, Rob Roest, Gary Urwin and Peter Steigrad with a $70 bottle of the fallen finance company’s sparkling wine. Media accounts of an ill-considered email from Mr Feeley to SFO staff triggered the minister’s concerns.

Moreover, Mr Feeley was reported to have given a copy of Allan Hubbard’s biography, A Man Out of Time, as a booby prize at an SFO Christmas raffle. Ms Collins did not see the funny side. She referred the media revelations to the State Services Commission ‚Äď his employer ‚Äď for investigation. The book incident fortified the supporters’ view that the Hubbard investigation was biased from the outset. The Bridgecorp wine incident further meant Mr Feeley was no longer fit to work for the SFO if it were to maintain any credibility.

Mr Feeley has disputed using the Hubbard biography as a booby prize. It was a genuine prizegiving to reward good performance, he insists, although he acknowledged the gift of that book could have been misinterpreted.

SSC chief Iain Rennie said recognising staff achievement in the Bridgecorp case was reasonable, but using a bottle from the company and making the association clear in the staff email was “ill advised and demonstrated a lapse of judgment on this occasion”. But Mr Rennie credited Mr Feeley with being an “effective chief executive and leader” (although the leaking of the email suggests at least some SFO staff think otherwise).

Ms Collins has said she will be making her views clear when next she meets Mr Feeley. That is not an experience he will relish. She is not called “Crusher” for nothing.

Cheque checks too much for Speaker

Cheque checks too much for SpeakerSpeaker Margaret Wilson wants a Cabinet minister to be in charge of parliamentary spending – instead of doing the job herself.But National is leaning towards self-policing and putting MPs back in charge of the system.Concern… [NZ Politics]

Margaret Wilson has got to be the most useless, bent, lazy Speaker ever. Now she doesn't even want to check the spending of the MP's she has under her "control".

And WTF is Rodney doing crawling up her back passage? 

Bob the Builder lays complaint with Speaker Wilson

Bob Clarkson has laid a complaint with Speaker Margaret Wilason after being bashed by Trevor Mallard in parliament yesterday.

Of course nothing will come of it with the caven partisanship of our current Speaker.