Government denies stalling Setchell sacking report

Last updated 00:00 25/10/2007

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The Government says it is not to blame for delaying the release of a report into the Madeleine Setchell affair.

An inquiry is being held into the appointment of Ms Setchell to an Environment Ministry communications job and her subsequent controversial removal.

She lost the position after an issue was made of the fact her partner is Kevin Taylor, National leader John Key's chief press secretary.

Although she had revealed the relationship when she applied for the job, she was removed from it and offered an alternative position, which she declined.

David Benson-Pope resigned as environment minister because he misled the public over a telephone conversation he had with the ministry's chief executive, Hugh Logan, about Ms Setchell's appointment.

Former state services commissioner Don Hunn has been appointed to help with an inquiry into the way the public service handled the matter.

In Parliament yesterday, National MP Gerry Brownlee said the report was meant to have taken eight weeks but 12 weeks had passed.

"Is it because the Labour Government wants to release the report when it will be crowded out by other news such as the impending cabinet reshuffle?" he asked.

The reshuffle is to be held next week.

State Service Minister Annette King said it was up to State Services Commissioner Mark Prebble when to issue the report.

"As far as I know, he (Dr Prebble) doesn't know when, why or how the reshuffle will take place so he isn't going to be basing it on that. I think the member has got it wrong once again."

Ms King said she had seen parts of the report relating to her.

She said that she had no knowledge of what was in the report.

"No one, as far as I am aware, has seen the full report because I am told it is still a work in progress."

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- NZPA

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