Derek Handley releases comms with Ministers

Derek Handley released:

In the month since Clare Curran’s demotion from Cabinet, there has been continued questioning and speculation over a series of communications that took place and what role they may have
played in the appointment process for the Chief Technology Officer. I felt throughout that the right thing to do was to refrain from commenting as I did not see it as my role to clear up concerns regarding a Government process or contents of related communications.

However, the resulting vacuum has fueled speculation and demands to see emails and texts between myself and Clare Curran and Jacinda Ardern. The Government has chosen not to fill that vacuum.

In the interests of drawing a line on this issue, today I am releasing a detailed timeline of events and all of the emails and texts between myself and Clare Curran, and myself and the Prime Minister about the role and my move back to New Zealand.

These communications clearly demonstrate there was nothing untoward or inappropriate. In fact as stated in the State Services Commission’s own review, a “suitably robust process” was
followed and the February meeting between myself and Clare Curran “did not prejudice the process”.

To this day, I have still not had any communication from the Government explaining why the role which I was appointed to was withdrawn. Neither have I heard personally from Minister
Hipkins, Minister Woods or the Prime Minister during this challenging time, which has been disappointing from a Government that highlights compassion and kindness as hallmarks of their leadership.

Handley really has been done over and the communications don’t show anything inappropriate from his part. Both Hipkins and Woods refused to even speak to him on the phone to tell him they were rescinding the contract, which is pretty gutless.

Every New Zealander takes their job seriously and personally. Under whatever circumstances an employment arrangement is started or ended, openness, communication, empathy and concern are basic principles to doing so with dignity and compassion. They are also the strongest expressions of the culture and values of the employer.

Which implies he is saying the Government does have have the values of dignity and compassion.

I’ve done a quick timeline of key messages below.

15 Jan Application closes for CTO
12 Feb Curran says none of 60 applicants successful
13 Feb DH contacts CC through Twitter re role
27 Feb DH meets CC in her office
23 April DH texts JA saying she was a star in Europe and he wants to come home and help her in any way possible
24 April JA responds asking when he’ll be back
  HD responds saying Aug/Sep
  JA responds says will ask team how they can make use of him and does he have any thoughts
  DH says a number of people have asked him to consider CTO role
25 April DH asks for JA e-mail so he can send starter thoughts through and she responds with it
8 May Curran reopens applications

MBIE informs DH applications open

3 June Applications close

DH sends in application

7 June DH e-mail JA telling her he has applied for CTO role. And he is so keen to come home and help her.
30 July CC asks DH via text for a phone chat
1 August DH texts CC after chat to assure he is aware of concerns raised by CC and not afraid of public attacks. CC responds asking him to be patient for a few more days
8 August CC advises DH his application successful subject to APH. DH says he wishes to take up role. CC comments “It feels like Star Trek”
10 August DH sent letter of offer
15 August DH sent contract. Appointment goers to APH
20 August Appointment goes to Cabinet
21 August CC e-mails DH with some thoughts on stuff for his role (implying it was signed off at Cabinet)
24 August PM demotes CC
27 August DIA advises DH there is no indication recruitment process not continuing
12 September DH advised he no longer has role


A couple of key things:

  • The Prime Minister did respond to some of the messages from Handley and even said she would ask her team if they find a way to make use of him
  • When the PM said on 24 August that the recruitment of CTO was in its final stages, she knew a job offer had been made and accepted and that Cabinet had confirmed the appointment four days earlier

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