Friday, April 30, 2010

Bennett tries to buy the silence of her victim

Last year, in a vile act of political thuggery, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett released the personal and benefit details of two beneficiaries who had publicly criticised the government's plans to cut the training incentive allowance. This gross abuse of power resulted in an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner. And you can see why: as a result of Bennett's unlawful release of personal information, one of the women "has had to have counselling, move house and change her phone number", presumably because of abuse and harassment from the right-wing sewer.

The Privacy Commissioner's findings are due to be released soon, and they're clearly pretty bad for Bennett: she's reportedly been trying to buy the silence of her victim in a desperate attempt to prevent the report becoming public. Bennett is of course denying everything, and trying to bluster and stonewall her way through, but TV3 apparently has documents to prove it (which they should publish. Bennett has had her chance; time to let the evidence speak for itself). So, we have a Minister who abuses her power, then tries to buy her way out of trouble. And no doubt, she's using taxpayer's money to do it.

The Cabinet Manual sets out a very clear standard of behaviour for Ministers:

Ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards.
Bennett's behaviour does not meet that standard. Her initial violation of privacy was unlawful, abusive, and unethical. Her subsequent attempt to buy her victim's silence is unethical. She is morally unfit to be a Minister. She should have been sacked long ago.