The behaviour of certain MFAT managers

A tier 3 manager is a very senior manager. They are one step off the executive team who report to the CEO. They are the managers who manage large sections or teams within an organisation.

The Rebstock report into the behaviour of a number of Tier 3 managers at shows an alarming lack of political neutrality and professionalism. These are not junior staffers, but what should be trusted senior public servants. Some extracts:

  • Nine Tier 3 managers misreported to the investigation how they handled the HOM’s joint letter and so misled the investigation.
  • Two Tier 3 managers (no longer employed by MFAT) were so opposed to
    the change proposals they ignored the fact that the consultation was a staff in confidence process. … They encouraged or supplied unauthorised government information to the partners group and the FSA for use in their public campaigns and encouraged former New Zealand diplomats to lobby Ministers directly.
  • The evidence obtained by the investigation, as outlined in this section, showed that [Y] and [Z] engaged in a strategy designed to ensure the change proposals did not
    become a reality. This strategy included working outside the staff in confidence consultation process prescribed by the Secretary.
  • This pattern of ignoring the requirement to protect the confidentiality of discussions in the Division Directors’ meetings continued through March 2012. On several occasions [Y] forwarded his notes of these meetings and other communications intended only for senior managers to other MFAT staff outside his own team, including the FSA President, who were not attendees at the meetings or intended recipients of other communications.

Persons Y and Z have been named as and . Leask is now retired, but Fyfe is a Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.

I can not imagine how the Secretary of Justice, or Ministers, could possibly have any confidence in Fyfe , in light of the evidence of the Rebstock report that he passed on confidential documents to people not authorised to have them. I would think the SIS would have grounds to revoke his security clearance. Note I am not saying he leaked outside MFAT – but if your employer says this is for tier 3 and 2 managers only, you don’t e-mail it to other staff.

More to the point, how could the Secretary of Justice have confidence that any restructuring at Justice wouldn’t be undermined and confidential information given to unauthorised persons?

And let us not think this was about any high and mighty noble purpose. Rebstock notes:

It is natural for every public servant to want to protect their own personal interests, but they have a duty to the Government and to their organisation not to use their professional position, including access to Ministers, to promote their personal interests.

Those who leaked to Labour sold out their department and their neutrality to keep their 30 pieces of silver.

It is not known who within MFAT was talking to Labour, but calls were made directly to Phil Goff from MFAT conference rooms.

MFAT telephone records for 2 April 2012 show a call to the Labour Party Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade’s cellphone number at 4.54pm. The call lasted seven minutes 44 seconds. The telephone used was installed in a small meeting room on Level 14. The whole of Level 14 is accessible only with security
cards.

Incredible – one or more MFAT staffers calling an Opposition MP on his cellphone from a secure MFAT conference room.

MFAT’s email records, between 26 March 2012 and early May 2012, show [Y] exchanging emails with a reporter from the Fairfax Political Bureau. The reporter appears to have initiated this exchange after a work trip to Seoul which they had both attended. [Y] met the reporter for coffee on 23 April 2012 and for a drink on the evening of 2 May 2012. The investigation has not been able to establish what was discussed at these meetings. [Y] said his reason for meeting the reporter was to seek information about current issues at his new employer.

Yeah, right. You don’t meet a journalist to find out what is happening with your employer. You meet to tell them what is happening.

Furthermore, [Y] did not resile from his actions during the MFAT change process and submitted that his behaviour was justified because the change proposals were unprecedented and the management of the process was “deeply flawed”.

So as I read this Fyfe is saying he would do the same again, if he disagree with a restructuring process. That would make me very nervous if I was his employer.

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