INDEPENDENT NEWS

Minister accepts resignation of Southern Response Chair

Published: Tue 18 Dec 2018 08:37 PM
Minister accepts resignation of Southern Response Chair
Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods has tonight accepted the resignation of Southern Response chair Ross Butler, following the release of the State Services Commissioner’s report on the agency’s use of external security consultants.
“A short time ago, I received the resignation of the chairperson of the Southern Response Board, Ross Butler. Mr Butler has also resigned from his roles on the boards Otakaro Ltd and Regenerate Christchurch.
“This follows today’s release of the State Services Commissioner’s report into the use of external security consultants.
“Early this year, I saw emails between Southern Response and the private investigation firm Thompson and Clark. These emails were concerning and I reported them to the State Services Commissioner who launched the investigation that has reported back today.
“The actions by Southern Response revealed in today’s report do not meet my expectations as Minister.
“I acknowledge that Southern Response originally hired Thompson and Clark out of legitimate concerns for staff health and safety. That is appropriate. Every New Zealander has a right to be safe at work.
“What the report makes clear however is as the process went on, surveillance was increasingly used as a tool for reputation management, not for the protection of staff safety.
“Covertly attending private claimant meetings and recording closed door conversations without anyone’s knowledge are not appropriate ways for Government entities to manage their reputations.
“These actions were wrong, plain and simple. They are unacceptable to me and unacceptable to this government.
“New Zealanders need to be able to trust that covert surveillance is only ever used in the public interest, with appropriate safeguards and to the highest ethical standards.
“In the coming days I will be appointing an interim Chair of Southern Response,” says Megan Woods.

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