Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A total witch-hunt

Over the last two years, the government wasted $510,000 on Paula Rebstock's witch-hunt to find leakers within MFAT. In the end, that witch-hunt found nothing - but it liberally smeared senior public servants anyway. Now it turns out that Rebstock ignored evidence:

A former top diplomat, Derek Leask, has released documents showing Rebstock ignored evidence from the former head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Maarten Wevers, which appears to call into question some of her findings.

Rebstock’s report into leaks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade accused Leask and another former diplomat, Nigel Fyfe, of improperly briefing ministers and Beehive staff on restructuring at the agency.

But evidence to the inquiry by Sir Maarten stated that it was normal practice for senior diplomats to keep the Beehive in the loop on issues of national interest. The restructuring was seen in that light because of their concern about the potential impact of the proposals on the reputation of the ministry overseas.

That evidence didn't fit Rebstock's pre-determined conclusion of disloyalty, so it was ignored. And as a result the entire report is an exercise in defamation which has chilled the exchange of free and frank advice within the public sector.

Money well spent? You be the judge.