The Rebstock report

December 12th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

More than 18 months since its launch and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, an inquiry into leaks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade () is set to send ripples through the Wellington bureaucracy.

The report, due for release today, is expected to point the finger at a clerical worker as the main suspect behind a Cabinet document leak.  

This is a key piece of information. Labour tried to portray the leaks as coming from disgruntled diplomats who were personally affected by the proposed restructuring. And while it would be wrong for them to leak also, you have more sympathy for a leak if it comes from someone who is personally affected by some propsoed action.

But as far as I know this clerical worker was not affected by the proposals. In fact he didn’t even work for MFAT. So his motivation for leaking was not to fight the proposed restructuring which could affect him. So what was it? Well my guess is that it was pure partisan politics – to help the Labour Party. Because while I don’t know for sure who Person X is, the name that has floated around is that of a former Labour Party parliamentary staffer. Now if this is correct, that means that this leak was indeed all about partisan politics, and nothing to do with MFAT restructuring.

The court challenge, taken by someone known as Person A, is understood to relate to a person who will be named as Person X in today’s report. 

Person A has had heavy suppression orders throughout, including around his present and former places of work, but the Court of Appeal allowed news media to report that he was a clerical assistant.

People may wonder how a clerical assistant can afford to fund legal action all the way to the Court of Appeal. Maybe a certain political party helped pay the bills? Could they have even used their parliamentary budget to do so? I don’t know, but a question worth posing to Labour is whether they did, and can they confirm Person X used to work for them?

Also as far as I know, Person X does not have name suppression – they just have not been named. There is nothing preventing the media in asking certain people if they are Person X, and printing their responses.  I was wrong. He does have name suppression in relation to he court case, so the name or details that identify him can not be made public. Am unsure if media will try and get name suppression lifted through the court.

Anyway I look forward to reading the report, and the 16 pieces of circumstantial evidence that point to Person X.

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17 Responses to “The Rebstock report”

  1. david (2,482 comments) says:

    If indeed the person involved was a clerical worker, then several Labour MPs must be seen as having lied like flatfish to the electorate. Chief amongs those would presumably be Phil Goff who has a proven history of releasing misleading and outdated confidential reports to the media for partisan political purposes and who released the (contended to be incorrect by the US State Dept) “gone by lunchtime” misquote by Don Brash.

    One can only hope that Phil gets a long and quiet retirement to reflect on his duplicity and arguably fraudulent posturing. Alas however I feel that he would be in the Chris Trotter camp of cheating/law breaking is OK as long as the intention is to benefit the left.

    Sad

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  2. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    I can’t believe an X Man would stoop to this.

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  3. Keeping Stock (9,791 comments) says:

    If the identity of Person X that has been mentioned to you DPF is the same as has been mentioned to me, a couple of prominent Labour MP’s will be keeping a very low profile in coming months.

    @ David – Phil Goff is one. Another is very much Wellington-centred :P

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  4. Alan (922 comments) says:

    “People may wonder how a clerical assistant can afford to fund legal action all the way to the Court of Appeal. Maybe a certain political party helped pay the bills?”

    I’d be pretty sure that their union would be covering the bills. One of the prime benefits of trade union membership is a form of legal insurance.

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  5. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    KS says

    “David – Phil Goff is one. Another is very much Wellington-centred ‘

    ****

    It could not possibly be the “dickhead” rainbow, nor the owner of the “house of ill repute”, could it?

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  6. burt (7,093 comments) says:

    Name suppression …. So he’s an All Black, an entertainer or an MP

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  7. Keeping Stock (9,791 comments) says:

    Not Annette King flipper, no. But a slight alteration to the last two letters of “Wellington-centred” will solve the puzzle :D

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  8. burt (7,093 comments) says:

    Grant Robertson is Labour’s MP for Wellington Central – Just saying !

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  9. burt (7,093 comments) says:

    So who is the name suppression protecting – and why. Is it protecting the person because being named for doing what they did would impact on their ability to … do it again ?

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  10. Huevon (103 comments) says:

    I feel sorry for “Person X”. I’ve seen how the Labour Party preys on well-meaning but dimwitted young people. Fault of the parents ultimately…

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  11. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    Because while I don’t know for sure who Person X is

    Nor do you know if Person X did what they’re accused of doing. Seems like a lot of unnecessary speculation. Then again if there’s an opportunity to attack Labour, who cares, eh?

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  12. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    Is it protecting the person because being named for doing what they did would impact on their ability to … do it again ?

    It’s probably because there apparently is no clear evidence they did what they’re accused of doing…but since when did a lack of evidence worry the Right?

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  13. peterwn (2,939 comments) says:

    Interesting that Maryan Street was rabbiting on about a ‘culture of fear’ in the public service. She would be right about public servants who who push partisan political viewpoints.

    She overlooked the ‘culture of fear’ in the public service during Helen Clark’s (and H2′s) reign. Anyone who did not toe the party line or possibly ‘disloyal’ were out and replaced by Labour shills.

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  14. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock (9,363 comments) says:

    December 12th, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Not Annette King flipper, no. But a slight alteration to the last two letters of “Wellington-centred” will solve the puzzle :D
    *****

    Ahhhh, so :-)…… Someone, over the rainbow…..

    ***

    Peterwn says…..

    She overlooked the ‘culture of fear’ in the public service during Helen Clark’s (and H2′s) reign. Anyone who did not toe the party line or possibly ‘disloyal’ were out and replaced by Labour shills….

    Well noted, but the MSM will continue to ignore. No?

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  15. In Vino Veritas (136 comments) says:

    Well Ross69, there is evidence, circumstantial evidence. And funnily enough Ross, circumstantial evidence can get one convicted in a court of law in the country.

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  16. Pete George (21,828 comments) says:

    Media release:

    Findings of the Investigation into The Possible Unauthorised Disclosure of Information Relating to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs And Trade

    The State Services Commissioner, Iain Rennie, today released the findings into the unauthorised disclosure of information relating to restructuring plans at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in 2012.

    The Cabinet papers were provided in confidence to senior officials at MFAT, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the State Services Commission, the Ministry of Justice, and the Treasury.

    Key Findings

    • Systems and processes for protecting sensitive information are highly variable between departments and need improvement.

    • Ms Rebstock has reported a strong suspicion that the leak of the three Cabinet Committee papers was made by a temporary staff member working within the State Services Commission (SSC). The investigation was unable to find definitive evidence of who was responsible for the unauthorised disclosure of the Cabinet papers.

    • The report has identified conduct by a group of senior public servants at MFAT during the change process that fell below the standards expected of people in their position.

    • Specifically Ms Rebstock finds that the behaviour of some Tier 3 managers in MFAT created a perception in the department that it was acceptable for opposition to the proposed changes to be aired outside the department and used for political purposes.

    • Ms Rebstock finds that two Tier 3 managers developed strategies to oppose the change proposals, and to disrupt or stop the change process outside of the staff-in-confidence consultation process.

    • Ms Rebstock further considered it probable some MFAT staff leaked a variety of staff-in-confidence material to the Labour Party Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and to the media.

    The person referred to as Person X in the report sought judicial review of the Inquiry’s findings where he was known as “Applicant A” and a suppression order was imposed by the High Court. That order prohibits publication of any details that might lead to X’s identification. The High Court has altered the suppression order so that details of his place of work at the time and his previous place of employment may be revealed. Other identifying details remain suppressed.

    “I need to be able to assure Ministers, and any future Government, that confidential information will be protected and that Public Servants are trustworthy and will act with integrity,” Mr Rennie said.

    In reference to the suspected involvement of a former SSC temporary staff member, Mr Rennie said he was “extremely saddened and disappointed” that the leak of the Cabinet papers may have come out of the Commission.

    “I am proud of my team and the way they handle sensitive information with discretion and professionalism every day. If the leak came from within SSC then the individual who chose to behave like this has badly let down his colleagues,” Mr Rennie said.

    “While I believe that SSC has generally robust systems in place to safeguard sensitive information, changes have been made to improve our work in this area. I am confident this has reduced the risk of an individual behaving like this again,” he said.

    In addition to the handling of secure documents, Mr Rennie was particularly concerned about the behaviour and action of senior public servants within MFAT, while acknowledging that change processes can be challenging for all staff.

    “I fully support public servants actively engaging with change processes. However, I expect that staff will engage with these processes through proper channels and will treat the process with respect and professionalism,” Mr Rennie said.

    “Deliberately leaking information and working to undermine and publicly embarrass your Chief Executive is not appropriate and can never be justified.”

    “Senior public servants are expected to act with a high level of integrity in the way they conduct themselves in undertaking their work. This includes acting responsibly and objectively at all times, “ he said.

    “I intend to reiterate to Public Servants what their obligations are in relation to the handling of government information,

    “I will also be discussing the findings and recommendations with Chief Executives so they can be considered with regard to processes for managing sensitive information and when planning any future change processes.”

    The cost of the investigation and costs incurred by the Commission defending legal proceedings related to the investigation are $510,000.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1312/S00188/disclosure-of-information-report-released.htm

    http://www.ssc.govt.nz/rebstock-report-released%20

    http://www.ssc.govt.nz/report-unauthorised-disclosure-mfat-papers

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  17. Pete George (21,828 comments) says:

    MFAT leak accused previously worked in Labour research unit and was a temporary clerical assistant at SSC – Iain Rennie

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