Hughes said Peters was wrong on several elements of his evidence last week, including a practice Peters claimed ministers should follow in applying three tests before accepting ‘no surprises briefings’ from officials. Hughes said: “This is not how the no surprises briefing works. I’ve never heard of such an approach being followed.”
Peters was also wrong in his belief a caretaker government situation existed for three months before a general election, meaning no surprises briefings were ruled out. “No caretaker provision applied to restrict what I would otherwise provide to my minister leading up to the election,” Hughes said.
So Peters just made that up.
Earlier, the commissioner said neutrality was fundamental to his role and those of other senior public servants.
“I’m confident nobody, not even my family, knows what my politics are. This is something I never discuss and I never ever let politics come into the decisions I make. Not once has anyone ever accused me of political partiality or anything close to it.
“I understand Mr Peters says I have acted contrary to the principles of political neutrality, of using the no surprises policy as a sham.
“The allegations that I acted politically are untrue, and unfounded, and I absolutely reject them.”
The Deputy PM accused the most senior public servant of being a political hack.
Boyle, the last of the Crown defendants to give evidence, said he had served 38 different ministers from Labour, National, NZ First, the Māori Party and ACT as a chief executive between 2003 and 2018.
The issues at play in the Peters case went to the heart of the public’s ability to have confidence in the public service. Neutrality was paramount, he said. “Mr Peters alleges that I breached the obligations of political neutrality, that he believes the use of no surprises was a sham by the officials.
“I totally reject that allegation. I had no political motivation in deciding to brief my minister. My over-riding concern was the accountability of the minister to Parliament, risks to the ministry, and questions about the integrity of the social security system.”
So Boyle has served 38 ministers from five parties, but also got smeared by Winston.
Boyle said there was no limit, as Peters argued, on public servants briefing ministers on operational issues in the departments. “That is absurd.”
“Mr Peters seems to be confusing ministerial knowledge of operational matters and ministerial involvement in operational matters. They are not one and the same.
Winston seems to be confused a lot.
“I have never met a minister who did not want to be informed of something significant in their portfolio, either negative or positive.
“The only time I can ever remember a minister genuinely angry was when they were surprised.”
He gave the example of a decision to continue the Crown car fleet with BMW when he was Secretary of Internal Affairs. The person responsible for ministerial services was the Prime Minister at the time, Sir John Key, who “was unhappy learning of the contract renewal via his driver”.
Heh I bet he was.