The Director of Human Rights Proceedings announced today the resolution of a complaint under the Privacy Act against Hon Paula Bennett, Minister of Social Development.
The Director, Mr Robert Hesketh said, “On the basis of the Minister’s letter to me, I have agreed to close my file. The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. The letter from the Minister is attached. We have all agreed that the letter speaks for itself and we will make no further comment.”
The complaint had been referred to the Director by the Privacy Commissioner. This is the normal process under the Privacy Act when the Privacy Commissioner considers a complaint has substance, but the parties cannot agree on a settlement.
The letter is here. Bennett says she maintains she was justified in her actions, but regrets the comments same others made re Fuller, and the hurt that caused.
I do believe that if individuals who receive state support portray themselves publicly as “hard done by”, that there is an obligation for the full nature of such support to be revealed. Without it, we the public, have incomplete information.
However the best practice in future would be for the individuals involved to be asked to consent to MSD releasing their details. If consent is refused, that should be publicised, and if then a decision made on whether to release without consent.
Note this does not apply to individuals on state support criticising the Government or its policies generally. Absolutely not. Only if they talk about their individual circumstances in a way which doesn’t provide the full picture.