Iain Rennie

By the amount of explaining, there’s a lot of losing

Oh man, this Sutton thing is just a political tar pit.  Grown men stood around a self-admitted sexual harasser, and one even hugged him.  This is especially poignant as unwanted hugs were part of the sexual harassment complaints.

The perpetrator was flanked by State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie and Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Andrew Kibblewhite.  Their presence, at this press conference full of spin, was to send a very clear signal:  “Do. Not. Mess. With. Authority”.

It didn’t work out.   And now they’re busy running damage control.

It was last week’s press conference that called into question the judgement of both State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie and Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Andrew Kibblewhite.

Mr Kibblewhite has acknowledged it wasn’t a good look. Now he has finally offered an explanation to the Prime Minister for “that hug”.

“He certainly offered an apology for the picture that that demonstrated, which is not one that he was trying to display, that he was siding with the chief executive,” says John Key.

Mr Kibblewhite, who earns $489,000 per year, told the Prime Minister he was there to support the rest of the organisation, not Mr Sutton.

“We’ve had a good conversation about something that I don’t think he handled nearly as well as he could have. He may have had the right reasons but the execution was poor,” says Mr Key.

Not a good look.

These aren’t stupid men.  They knew exactly what they were doing.  What they didn’t expect was the huge public blowback this would cause.  After all, the boys club, on TV, showing solidarity, the victim, keeping to confidentiality and staying away from the political roller derby that was busy trivialising her concerns and sending a clear signal that these sorts of things would not be tolerated.

So in the face of all that power and intimidation, what went wrong?   Read more »

Key finally takes a position on the Sutton debacle


Iain Rennie – is he past his use-by date?

As I predicted on Friday, after a whole week of relative silence, John Key finally has an opinion after Curia’s been scouring the population to tell him what to think.

Mr Key told Radio New Zealand today the press conference was a “miscalculation”.

“There’s no way that he should have conducted a joint press conference with Mr Sutton.”

It give the impression that he was siding with Mr Sutton and it gave an unfair platform for Mr Sutton when the complainant was not given that same platform, Mr Key said. Read more »

Little wades into the Sutton/Rennie debacle

Choose one:  Inquiry or resignation.  (It doesn’t get much more creative than that, does it?)

Andrew Little has made his first big call as the leader of the Opposition.

It’s for the head of State Services, Iain Rennie, over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against CERA boss Roger Sutton.

On Monday it was Mr Sutton in the firing line.

“I have called women ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’ and that is wrong,” he said.

Six days later it’s his boss, Mr Rennie, in the firing line because he gave Mr Sutton the chance at a news conference to speak about his resignation following a sexual harassment inquiry.

“That is such a departure from the standards that we ought to expect from those whose job it is to maintain standards in the public service, I think now we’re entitled to conclude that Iain Rennie is unfit for the job and there’s got to be now an investigation into his fitness to hold that job,” says Mr Little.

Sorry, my mistake.  An inquiry AND a resignation.  How original.   However, Little is right about Rennie having put himself in a very indefensible position.   Read more »

Rodney Hide on Sutton: I wouldn’t want my daughter working for Sutton. Would you?

Rodney thinks Sutton’s man card expired a while ago.

Men who get things done don’t hug. They especially don’t hug staff. It’s okay to hug mum at dad’s funeral but that’s about it.

It’s not sexism. I wouldn’t want a boss to hug me. And I know my exact response: do that again and I’ll drop you. I don’t like being touched by the uninvited.

Men who get things done don’t resign over bad taste jokes. They certainly don’t see a psychologist about them. Sutton should have quit the jokes and got on with the job.

Men who get things done don’t brag. Sutton declares: “I have done heaps in this job. I have done lots and lots.” He sounds like a small child.

And he whines: “But I haven’t done enough with my family. I haven’t done school camps.

I have hardly ever been to anybody’s athletic sports.”

Boo hoo. What are we supposed to do? Cry with him?

Yes, that is exactly what you were meant to do.  On top of having his paws all over staff and making stupid sexually charged comments and suggestions, it appears Sutton also admitted to being a shit husband and father.  But, you’re supposed to feel sorry for him because it was totally out of his control.   Read more »

Kerre McIvor on Sutton: “Creepiness is subjective”

One man’s caring, demonstrative boss is another’s predatory old cougar who should keep her opinions to herself.

Of course, some things are clear cut. Stroking body parts (yours or other people’s); sexting; lewd conversations – they are a no-go in the workplace. But sometimes, it’s not so easy to evaluate what is and isn’t appropriate.

The resignation last week of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) boss, Roger Sutton, came after a seven-week inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against him.

He fronted a press conference attended by senior government officials including the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Andrew Kibblewhite, and State Services Commissioner, Iain Rennie.

Sutton delivered a beautiful mea culpa – yes, he said, he’d called women sweetheart and honey. Yes, he liked to hug, but that was just him.

He accepted his behaviour was sexist, and was seeing a psychologist to deal with that. He had also decided to resign, despite Rennie saying he didn’t believe Sutton’s behaviour warranted dismissal. And yet he also said Sutton was guilty of serious misconduct, a charge that can warrant instant dismissal.

Sutton said he was exhausted and wanted to spend more time with his family. He wanted to be a better father and husband. And so with tears and one final ambush hug on a startled Kibblewhite, Sutton left the press conference arm in arm with his wife.

I have no doubt it was genuine. I’m sure Sutton was very sorry that he’d hurt anyone’s feelings. This is a guy who likes to be liked. I’m sure he did want to spend time with his family and I’m also certain he was exhausted. Most people in Canterbury dealing with the aftermath of the earthquakes are.

But what on earth was Rennie thinking? The parties involved in the investigation – the complainant, the accused, the witnesses – were bound by confidentiality agreements. And yet Rennie stayed schtum while Sutton presented his version of events.

Iain Rennie had a huge brain fart.   Read more »

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 »