Martin Legge replies to Sunday Star-Times story #DIA #coverup

### Sunday Star-Times Sun, 11 Nov 2012
Pokie man stopped from rort inquiries
By Steve Kilgallon
A senior Internal Affairs investigator says he was prevented from probing pokie rorts by his own department because it did not have the confidence to prosecute major crimes. Dave Bermingham, an investigator and analyst who left the department in August, said Internal Affairs was incompetent and should be stripped of its role investigating gaming machine fraud. {continues}
*No weblink available. Full text reproduced at post.

Comment received from Martin Legge
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 11:37 a.m.

Tony Molloy QC had this to say about a Government Regulator after his enquiry into the collapse of the finance industry:

“The destruction of billions of dollars of ma and pa retail wealth, through finance company meltdowns was the inevitable consequences of at least three decades of unreadiness, unwillingness and inability of regulators, enforcers, courts, lawyers and accountants to fulfil their roles with integrity.”

The Commission of Enquiry into The Pike River Disaster had this to say about another Government Regulator, the Department of Labour:

“DOL’s compliance strategy did not require an assessment of Pike’s safety and operational information. The inspectors did not have a system, training or time to do so. When, at the hearings, they were shown examples of safety information obtained by the commission from Pike’s records, the inspectors were visibly dismayed. This was not a case of individual fault, but of departmental failure to resource, manage and adequately support a diminished mining inspectorate.

DOL’s main public accountability documents, the statements of intent and annual reports to Parliament, did not reveal any concern about DOL’s ability to administer the health and safety legislation. The statements of intent and the annual reports contained many high-level statements on outcomes and outputs but it was impossible to gain much insight into the performance of the mining inspectorate, or the health and safety inspectors as a whole. Measures used, such as the raw numbers of investigations carried out by the health and safety inspectorate, were not informative.

The gap between the high-level statements in those documents and the reality on the ground was remarkable.”

Maarten Quivooy was the NZ Safety Manager at the DOL over this period but left DOL to become DIA’s head of Gambling Compliance. When the Sunday Star-Times put the allegations of cover ups and closing down of investigations within the pokie industry which he now oversees he had this to say:

“They do their investigation work to the best of their ability and from their perspective it can seem like it goes into a black hole but it has had active and thorough scrutiny by senior management.”

His comments suggest that the “remarkable gap” between high level statements and reality is now opening up within DIA !!!

To comfort the public and Politicians, Quivooy is quick to claim their investigation into TTCF was reviewed by Office of the Auditor General. What he doesn’t tell the public is that in July 2009, over the same period that Bermingham and DIA investigators were conducting their investigations into TTCF, Audit NZ was conducting its own independent and statutory audit of TTCF, as a public entity. That audit also found serious issues involving expenditure but neither Audit NZ or its parent body (OAG) took action or followed up on the findings at the time. DIA and OAG only bounced into life when I appeared as a “whistleblower” in October 2010.

OAG have never given me a satisfactory explanation as to why they didn’t immediately act or follow up to protect millions of dollars of public money but their own failure to act might explain why OAG have been so willing to endorse the DIA investigation that I have labelled a whitewash and Bermingham recently describes as a cover up.

A case of two well- resourced government regulators sticking together to avoid embarrassment.

[ends]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

7 Comments

Filed under Business, DCC, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Sport

7 responses to “Martin Legge replies to Sunday Star-Times story #DIA #coverup

  1. Peter

    The scandalous unwillingness of government regulators to do their job and actually do something is incredible. Is this just incompetence and a sense that it is all too much for them to bother with? Or is there corruption within those bodies that forestall any further action being taken? It has to be one of those possibilities. Doesn’t it? Or is there another possibility?
    Whatever the case, keeping on their backs forces them to move. At least we can take some comfort that the truth does get out and in an unvarnished way as we saw with the Pike River enquiry.
    Whatever debacle you are confronted with, natural justice demands that heads must roll. We cannot tolerate the attitude of people, like most on our council, who say ‘oh well, mistakes have been made, let’s just move forward’. Dismissive talk about’ witch hunts’ and ‘relitigating the past’ shows a gutlessness and inability to move those responsible out to pasture, instead of letting them stay on to do further damage.
    To her credit, Kate Wilkinson resigned as Minister of Labour because she upheld the principle of ministerial responsibility. This principle should be enshrined – like it used to be – on both a national and local level.

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    I have a suggestion for improving those regulatory bodies: no renewal of senior management contracts, headhunt the most inflexible parking wardens to replace them.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    Peter, I suspect a lot of the problem with the bureaucrats is that, in general they are a subservient lot. By this I mean that they will do as bid by the next higher up. We saw this amply demonstrated a few years back when our DCC Financial Manager spoke out publicly, expressing concern over the city’s mounting debt problems. He was then publicly castigated by the Chief Executive Officer at the time, and told in no uncertain terms to just do as he is told. Result? Debt now of unmanageable proportions, and the cause, the CEO is gone on to greener pastures.
    In the case of the DIA and the ‘pokies rorts’ there seems to be no doubt but that all attempts for enquiries are being stalled from on high. Even, I suspect from outside the department. Influential figures (who are profiting hugely) lean on the bureaucrats and call in favours from politicians. We only had to see the way our elected ” lackies” fawned all over the Rugby fraternity over the RWC. Even the indecorous performance of our Prime Minister endeavouring to shake Captain Richie McCaw’s hand on the podium was sickening. It’s that sort of behavior which sacrifices all scruples on the alter of ambition. So don’t expect a few lowly bureaucrats to put their heads on the block over some ‘piddly’ misappropriations of a measly few $million.

  4. Peter

    Yes, Calvin, I think for those kind of bureaucrats the rorting of public monies, in someone else’s backyard, is considered their problem to deal with as it doesn’t impact on them if they live elsewhere, like up in Wellington.

    I’m sick and tired of excuses made here for people who have made incompetent decisions. Despite the ‘reforms’ of DCHL some of the same people are still hanging around for ‘continuity’ reasons. Forgetting, of course, these are the same people who created the financial turmoil in the first place. We know the gall of these people who still puff about their own abilities. Farry’s newly set up consultant firm, Farry Riddell, is a good example of this. He should never be allowed around the council environs ever again.

  5. Joesph Jonstone

    I think most taxpayers would find it extremely frustrating that seemingly incompetent senior public servants can move with impunity around government departments and not be held accountable. Many questions need to be answered around Martin Quivooy as a result of the issues Mr Legge raises. Just because he [Quivooy] now works for the Department of Internal Affairs surely can’t mean he is untouchable for the appalling job done at the Ministry of Labour in the occupational safety area and the mines?

    Isn’t he still employed by the same entity, the NZ Government and the NZ public? If the situation at the Ministry of Internal Affairs under Mr Quivooy was as Martin Legge reports, then it appears the same mistakes and poor performance just continues to be perpetuated. I am not aware of how the official secrets Act in this country works but it’s obvious others that follow this blog have the knowledge to ask the right questions. I am very interested to hear if the Minister and CEO of Internal Affairs have confidence in the recruitment process followed in Mr Quivooy’s case, bearing in mind we now know unequivocally that the regulatory processes he oversaw in Labour were a shambles. It’s probably just as certain that this fact wasn’t disclosed by Quivooy in his recruitment process as he simply wouldn’t have got the job with Internal Affairs over what would have been a number of similarly qualified people. The 64 thousand dollar question is, did he get the job by making inflated claims around his achievements in his previous job with Labour? What is being done by Internal Affairs to check the validity of his claims around his previous employment?

    This sort of activity appears to be rife in the public service in this country and recruitment processes just don’t seem tight enough. The taxpayers need to know that their public servants are up to the job and not just shifting from department to ministry collecting oversize paychecks.

    • Elizabeth

      Joseph, some information:

      The Official Information Act 1982 is a New Zealand law passed by the 3rd National government in 1982 to “make official information more freely available, to provide for proper access by each person to official information relating to that person, to protect official information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the preservation of personal privacy, to establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes”. It also repealed the Official Secrets Act 1951. Wikipedia

      From the Cabinet Manual 2008 [as current at 1 Feb 2012], see the Introduction at http://cabinetmanual.cabinetoffice.govt.nz/node/68

      [Excerpt]
      The role of the public service
      The role of the public service is stated in some detail in legislation, particularly in the provisions of the State Sector Act 1988, the Public Finance Act 1989 and the Official Information Act 1982, as well as a great number of particular statutes. Constitutional principles and that legislation support four broad propositions (among others). Members of the public service:

      ● are to act in accordance with the law;
      ● are to be imbued with the spirit of service to the community;
      ● are (as appropriate) to give free and frank advice to Ministers and others in authority, and, when decisions have been taken, to give effect to those decisions in accordance with their responsibility to the Ministers or others;
      ● when legislation so provides, are to act independently in accordance with the terms of that legislation.

      Public servants meet those obligations in accordance with important principles such as neutrality and independence, and as members of a career service.

      Independent powers of decision: statutory bodies
      Members of the public service sometimes have independent statutory powers of decision, over which Ministers do not have control and for the exercise of which they are not responsible. Other parts of the broad state sector are also distinct from Ministers and not subject to their control and responsibility in the same way that departments and their members usually are.

      The bodies set up separately from government include regulatory agencies, providers of a wide range of services, state trading bodies, and supervisory, control, or advice agencies.

      In establishing such bodies, over a very long period, Parliament has recognised and reaffirmed that much public power should not be concentrated. It should be allocated to distinct bodies with varying degrees of independence from the Executive. This separation and independence may help ensure, for instance, a judicial independence of decision, equitable distribution of funds, the pursuit of commercial profit and business efficiency, or effective and credible processes of independent scrutiny, supervision and advice.

      Towards more open government
      Over recent decades the processes of government have become more open. Notably, in 1982 the Official Information Act reversed the basic principle of the Official Secrets Act 1951: the principle now is that official information is to be made available to those seeking it unless there is good reason for withholding it. Those reasons relate to public interest such as the national security and law enforcement, and to private interests such as confidences and privacy. Underlying that principle are a number of purposes, including enabling the more effective participation of the people of New Zealand in the making and administration of laws and policies, and promoting the accountability of Ministers of the Crown and officials, with the consequence of enhancing respect for the law and promoting the good government of New Zealand.

      The emphasis on greater transparency in decision making and policy development is also to be seen in the legislation governing the government’s spending and fiscal policies (especially the Public Finance Act 1989), and in the operation of the parliamentary select committee processes.

      • Elizabeth

        Of course, all the above quoted is broken with respect to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). Amply ‘corroded’ by the likes of Peter Dunne, John Key, and friends at central government.

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