Collins resigns from cabinet


Judith Collins has resigned from cabinet but will continue to campaign for re-election in the  Papakura electorate which she holds with a solid majority.

Ms Collins resignation from cabinet followed the emergence of an email from Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater to PR operative Carrick Graham and others.

The email implies that after (then) SFO boss Adam Feeley briefed Ms Collins, information was leake to Mr Slater then, via Mr Graham, was passed on to the subject of an SFO investigation.

Prime Minister John Key said he had accepted the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government,” Mr Key said.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office (see below).

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part,” he said. . .

Ms Collins released a statement at midday saying, “A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office,” she said in a statement.

“I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I strongly denied the claim and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour.

“I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

“I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.” . . .

What someone says about someone else, in an email or anywhere else, is only hearsay and not proof of wrong-doing by them.

But the allegations are serious enough to justify an inquiry and it is appropriate that she resigns from cabinet while it is carried out.



80 jobs to go from QLDC?


Queenstown Lakes District Council could shed 80 jobs as it restructures:

. . .The draft report proposes reducing the number of staff to 254, meaning 80 staff could lose their jobs.

Of the 334 employees, 163 are employed in operations – which includes service centre managers, librarians, admin and support staff.

The draft report proposes reducing operations staff by 42 to 121 and reducing planning department staff from 49 to 33.     

The loss of 80 staff is a significant reduction. While having sympathy for the people involved, QLDC rates are high and staff costs will be a significant factor in that.

However, it’s not just numbers but the effectiveness and efficiency of the service they provide which matters.

One of the key recommendations of the draft is to move as many Queenstown-based staff as possible into one building.

Currently staff are spread across several different offices and locations.

All frontline staff need to be in one location, the recommendation said.

Developing an internal culture of performance and public service was key as the council dovetailed its activities, the report said.

The review team observed that, excluding frontline staff, customer service was not always seen as important.

Not recognising the importance of customer service is not peculiar to QLDC.

The amount of needless paperwork generated for meetings also came under heavy scrutiny.

A significant amount of councillor and staff time and effort was put into more than 4000 pages of reports prepared for meetings over the past eight months.

More than 30 per cent of the material was judged to be needless and reducing the paperwork would free up staff resources.

Key points of the paperwork were considered more appropriately dealt with by the chief executive and management.

It was recommended only vital reports containing meaningful information should progress to council or committee meetings. . .

Needless reports wouldn’t be peculiar to QLDC either.

The council’s chief executive Adam Feeley was appointed last year after resigning as head of the Serious Fraud Office.

Perhaps skills he learned at the SFO have enabled him to look at the council and its performance in a way someone who came through the bureaucracy wouldn’t.

He said in January that an organisational review was his number one priority:

”Everything else takes a back seat to that, because everything else on my list can’t be dealt with until I have the type of organisation that can deal with these problems,” Mr Feeley told the Wanaka Residents Association annual meeting last week.

The goal of the review of QLDC activities was to develop a more efficient organisation which had greater cost effectiveness, better skills and capabilities, and that met the expectations of all communities within the district, Mr Feeley said.

He acknowledged the review, which included covering the activities of more than 230 staff, could result in redundancies. But rather than being purely a ”slash and burn exercise”, it was geared at producing motivated staff and giving the public an organisation which was easy to deal with. . .

A council culture of you have to do this rather than how can we help and concentration on rules  without taking account of their affects afflicts other councils which might learn from the changes proposed for QLDC.

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