Disagreeing editorials

December 13th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post says the MFAT leaks were justified:

That is why the leakers could argue they had a wider duty than their narrow duty of loyalty to the Government. Of course bureaucrats should not and must not leak willy-nilly. A broadly impartial public service should be able to be trusted with certain kinds of information. Leakers know they run a risk if caught. They must be quite certain that the public benefit of the leak outweighs the duty of confidentiality. And they must be prepared to face the music if caught.

In this case there was a wider public duty and therefore the leak was justified. No government has the right to demand silence from the victims of a misbegotten purge. No government should expect the “debate” to be confined to the victims and their executioners. No government should seriously expect this sort of thing not to leak.

I note the Dom Post was the recipient of many of the .

The Press has a different view:

The proposed restructuring, which had been ordered by the new head of to better align the ministry with New Zealand’s evolving trade promotion and diplomacy needs from Europe to Asia, aroused enormous opposition within the ministry. people had, of course, every right to oppose the changes. But, as Rennie observes, at that stage the correct and professional way to do that was through the proper process, which had then barely begun. In this case, the public servants concerned were not blowing the whistle on any impropriety but were seeking rather to shortcut and sabotage a proper process.

This is key. The Tier 3 managers resorted to sabotage before the process had barely begun.

The motive, at least so far as the leaker of the Cabinet papers is concerned, was ultimately to discomfit the Government. That person could not be identified with certainty but there was a strong suspicion it was a former member of the Labour Party research unit. Other MFAT individuals may have been trying to protect themselves and their own positions in MFAT.

The point about leaking and whistleblowing is that they are justified as serving the public interest by the need to protect the integrity of an institution or a system. In this case, the leakers undermined the system by taking on what amounted to a party-political role. They also undermined the honourable cause of whistleblowing.

I agree with .

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4 Responses to “Disagreeing editorials”

  1. burt (7,821 comments) says:

    The Dom post also printed Trotter’s courageous corruption piece as well…. Proof that the left can justify anything if it advances their self serving agenda.

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  2. Reid (15,954 comments) says:

    I wonder how much the fact John Allen was seen as an upstart outsider when he was appointed had to do with MFAT management’s reaction. In that there was no brake due to any personal loyalty any of them felt toward their CEO. Quite the opposite in fact.

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  3. Manolo (13,380 comments) says:

    The Dom Post continues to plumb new depths every other week.
    How that rag sells is a big mystery.

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  4. Bill Ted (80 comments) says:

    Reid – a lot. There was huge dissention over his appointment. MFAT are a special breed of public servant – they definitely have a stronger sense of entitlement and arrogance. Having an outsider take the big chief role really pissed off some diplomats and top tier managers. The Dom Post benefits from public service leaks routinely, they have to try to paint them as honourable. In reality, these leaks are motivated by personal politics or self-preservation. Never anything else. Unless you’re Dunne in a honey trap that is…

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