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Monday, August 29, 2005

More on PSA propaganda

[Note by AL: the following is related to this earlier post]

It is timely that I share a letter I received from the State Services Commission after raising a complaint about the PSA taking out advertising in the papers in June. I should note that I received a prompt reply (~26 hours, and via email).

Good afternoon Mr Woolley

Thank you for indicating your concern that the PSA is taking a partisan position which will impact on the political neutrality of the Public Service.

As you will appreciate the State Services Commissioner is very alert to any issues which impact on the political neutrality of the Public Service, and, in accord with his mandate under the amended State Sector Act, increasingly concerned with political neutrality implications and obligations for the State Services.

The political rights of state servants are not diminished because of their employment although there is clearly a responsibility to exercise judgement as to whether, when and how to express political and personal views. You will be aware of the material which the SSC has published (on www.ssc.govt.nz) relating to
* Political neutrality, a series of Fact Sheets
* General Election Guidance, and
* State Servants, Political Parties and Elections: Guidance for the 2005 Election Period

There is a balance to be maintained between the rights of individuals and New Zealand's tradition of an apolitical Public Service. The Commissioner cherishes this heritage and is committed to ensuring that the Public Service loyally serves the Government and is able to equally loyally serve a future government.

The PSA is a staff organisation and has a responsibility to act in the interests of its members. By raising awareness of the implications for its members of political party proposals, the PSA would not seem to be acting inappropriately.

Your comments however reflect a perception about the political neutrality of the Public Service and will be valuable in assisting the Commissioner determine how the balance can be maintained between individual rights and the collective commitment of the Public Service.

Thank you your email.

Beith Atkinson

Programme Manager, Integrity and Conduct
State Services Commission

tel 04 495 6722

By sharing this with you, you'll get some insight as to how they are likely to approach the problem if you raise it with them, and you also have contact details of the best person to contact to complain about these actions ;)

Clearly, the use of government facilities to hand out propaganda is entirely inappropriate. It should be documented and complaints registered to shut down this practice. After all, it may only be one rogue employee, in which case it can be easily shut down and they can have an example made of them. But if it is a more systemic problem, then it is certainly something that needs bright, hard light shone under the PSA rocks.

Posted by Bernard Woolley | 8/29/2005 08:11:00 pm


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this going to get into the MSM??

Great effort guys!!

Lindsay Addie

8/29/2005 08:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PSA acknowledges the SSC guidelines under a section called Political Neutrality.

Every instance and location where the left-wing PSA propaganda is distributed need to be raised with the SSC Integrity and Conduct department.

8/29/2005 09:56:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What worries me about the SSC response is that they seem to have missed the point that the staff member was handing out PSA material to members of the public - ie they weren't educating their union members but members of the public and surely that can only be described as electioneering?

8/30/2005 02:15:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

kowhaikiwi - that letter was written in response to a complaint I made in June about the PSA advertising in the newspaper, not the most recent incident. I just wanted to post it here to share some related issues. The most recent case is definitely worse, and more action needs to be taken by those that witnessed it.

8/30/2005 02:54:00 pm  

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