Does he have confidence in the Ministry for the Environment?
The ministry is working hard to regain my confidence, and that is the first issue the acting chief executive officer was asked to focus on by the State Services Commissioner.
Why did the Minister’s senior official, Mr Steve Dixon, threaten recycling advocate Mr Warren Snow following his submission to the Local Government and Environment Committee that was highly critical of the Government for failing to deliver on its 1990 election manifesto on waste, and what does it say about the culture of the ministry that such conduct would be seen as appropriate?
I have been briefed on the issue. The official’s behaviour is unacceptable, and I am advised that the official has apologised in writing directly to the submitter. I am also advised that the official’s manager has apologised to the select committee. This is a serious matter. As the member knows, staffing issues are an operational matter for the chief executive, and I have been advised that the chief executive is taking it seriously and dealing with it.
How is it that his ministry officials see fit to threaten select committee submitters who dare to criticise Labour for not delivering on its manifesto, that they are able to delete a key chapter in a state of the environment report that was critical of the Government, that they last year sacked staff linked to National and hired staff linked to Labour—does not this whole series of sad events point to a Government that is using and abusing this ministry for its own political ends?
There are a number of questions there, and it becomes clear, when one listens, that the member is not aware in which year some events occurred. But leaving that aside, to the substantive question and the latest allegation, I have made it clear that what the official did is wrong. I understand that the matter has been referred to the Speaker, and I think she should deal with it appropriately.
Noting that Mr Warren Snow has an application before his own ministry’s sustainability fund, what was he to make from the threatening comments from his officials about the status of the application for funding due in January, decisions by March, if it was not a message of “Don’t criticise the Government, or we’ll take your money away.”?
As I have indicated, the comment of the official was inappropriate. I was not aware of the fact that the submitter had an application in. I will seek the chief executive’s assurance that that official is not involved at all in making any decisions in that area.
What does it say about the culture that this Government has established within the public service that it thinks it is appropriate when someone is making a submission before a select committee that is critical of the Government to make threatening and intimidating comments to that person?
That is a matter that is being dealt with by both the chief executive as a staffing issue and, I understand, the Speaker.
I seek leave of the House to table the letter from Mr Warren Snow detailing the threats.