Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Politicising public servants

Labour's de facto Education spokesman Chris Hipkins has tweeted thus:

We thought more of Mr Hipkins than this small-minded affront to a respected public servant's integrity. Sir Maarten  Wevers was appointed as head of the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2004 when Helen Clark was Prime Minister. Prior to that he had been a career diplomat who had served New Zealand with distinction both domestically and overseas, and during periods in which both National and Labour governed the country. He was also Private Secretary to PM David Lange at one point in his distinguished public service career. Sir Maarten retired from his DPMC role last year.

However Chris Hipkins slights all public servants  with this indirect attack on Sir Maarten's integrity. It is a disgraceful slur by Hipkins, which we roundly condemn. Almost all public servants manage to achieve political neutrality and separate their personal and political beliefs from their work. Sir Maarten Weevers has proved that by serving New Zealand's two most recent Prime Ministers in an apolitical manner.

The irony here is that Chris Hipkins has history with Novopay that he is anxious to re-write. We blogged back in November that the first Novopay contract was signed when Chris Carter was still Minister of Education. And when it was put to Hipkins on the telly last week (we can't find the video, unfortunately) that he had been involved when he was a ministerial advisor prior to entering Parliament in 2008, he was very quick to change the subject.

This does not excuse National Ministers from blame over the Novopay roll-out, and the inquiry announced by Steven Joyce last week is essential. But there is no excuse for Chris Hipkin's snide attack on the integrity of a man of the standing of Sir Maarten Wevers.

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