(National Party media release)
The Public Services Commissioner must step in and conduct a probe into an apparent culture of deceit and cover-up at Government housing agency Kāinga Ora, says National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Nicola Willis.
“I have written to the Public Services Commisioner to make clear my grave concerns about the disregard senior staff at Kāinga Ora appear to have regarding the basic standards of conduct and integrity expected of all public servants.
“I am concerned that the Minister of Housing has not taken these issues seriously, having apparently failed to ensure anyone at Kāinga Ora has been held accountable, nor any changes in standards or policies made.
“This conduct first emerged in June, when I revealed that Kāinga Ora had used taxpayers’ money to commission a paid advertorial about now Labour MP Arena Williams.
“Megan Woods had her office confirm this fact with Kāinga Ora in an email on June 24 and yet took no further action.
“In August, I obtained documents showing senior staff at Kāinga Ora had actively chosen to hide their knowledge of Arena Williams’ candidacy. I have released a series of emails that reveal contempt for the standards of integrity, honesty and political neutrality that taxpayers have a right to expect from public servants.
“Despite having read the documents, the Minister did no more than slap Kāinga Ora with a wet bus ticket, having her staff member write an email to Kāinga Ora expressing concern.
“I am alarmed that, when I went public with this episode yesterday, Kāinga Ora continues to be dismissive of my concerns, releasing a media statement that made what appear to be false claims, specifically denying the involvement of more than one staff member in this episode, despite documents I have obtained showing other, more senior, staff were clearly involved.
“Kāinga Ora obviously does not take its Minister seriously, and has failed to grasp the seriousness of these issues.
“Left unchecked, this conduct leaves a stain on the reputation of the public service as a whole.
“The Public Services Commissioner must step in to investigate this incident and the wider issues it raises about the culture at the agency.”
Surprisingly the Jacinda government has agreed to do this — Nicola Willis comments: “Just remember the Minister of Housing, Megan Woods, has known about this since at least August. It took National’s exposure of these issues on Newshub, and my complaint to the Watchdog, for this to be taken seriously.”