Friday, June 07, 2019

Time for some accountability

The Herald (paywalled) reports that the GCSB called the Beehive to try and stop the government from announcing the Budget had been "hacked". Why? Because it was false, and they'd told Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf so. But instead, he lied to his Minister, and the public, in a pathetic and easily disproven exercise in arse-covering - and in the process caused his Minister to repeat his lies.

Once upon a time, before NeoLiberalism destroyed public service ethics, a chief executive would have offered to resign for this sort of thing. Makhlouf hasn't. That position is looking unsustainable. Ministers may tolerate chief executives lying to the public on their behalf - but lying to them is another matter entirely. Especially when the lies cause the Minister to put their foot in it.

As for what to do about it, the SSC has begun an investigation, but that investigation can have only one credible outcome: Makhlouf must be fired. Anything less and the entire system of accountability between Ministers and the public service breaks down.

And again: we pay public sector chief executives the big bucks because (they tell us) they are accountable and responsible and can be fired when they fuck up. We should get what we paid for. And if the buck doesn't actually stop there, then we shouldn't be giving it to them in the first place.