Criticism of Collins

The Herald reports:

The father of Karl Kuchenbecker says Minister is “all bark and no bite”, after she failed to remove Barry Matthews.

said Mr Matthews now appeared to be “untouchable” as the department’s chief executive, despite presiding over a string of failures such as parolee Graeme Burton being left free to murder his son.

To be fair to Matthews, the story notes:

Mr Rennie noted that Mr Matthews had failed last year to get the Government to fund 61 extra staff to monitor parole.

Ms Collins said she had asked for extra funding in this year’s Budget and the Government would be responsible when considering it.

So maybe the former Minister has some responsibility? But having said that, the Auditor-General made it clear that the failings can not be attributed to lack of resource alone.

John Armstrong also comments:

The “crusher” crushed? Well, for the time being at least.

But don’t expect Judith Collins to take defeat sitting down. Though the Corrections Minister may have been comprehensively wiped in her battle to have her department’s chief executive Barry Matthews removed from his position, he would be fooling himself if he thinks he has won the war. …

She said later that she had told him exactly what she was telling the media. If so, she would have served notice on him that he would not have her confidence until he had rebuilt public confidence in the department. She would have dropped a strong hint that requires a clean-out in the department’s senior management which has been seen as an obstacle to the “culture change” she is seeking in the way the department operates.

She is not the first minister to demand that. Labour’s Damien O’Connor pleaded with Matthews to do it. Unlike O’Connor, Collins is not going to allow herself to become a victim of the department’s failings.

As I said yesterday, the improvements need to continue. If so, that is a win-win. If not, then I see more interventions by the State Services Commissioner.

Also worth highlighting a comment by former State Services Minister Trevor Mallard on this blog:

My advice on colleagues was always to say :- “Matters of confidence in Chief Executives is a matter for the State Service Commissioner.” And nothing else. It didn’t always feel great especially when I thought a CE was being unfairly criticised but is really the only approach if one wants to maintain the integrity of the appointment system.

Reasonable advice, but does it apply when you think the criticism is fair, and you don’t have confidence?

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