It is completely unacceptable that Paula Bennett briefed her political staff on the police investigation into Hurimoana Dennis after her meeting with him, despite it having nothing to do with her social housing portfolio, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.
“It’s clear Paula Bennett has created a culture in her office where even senior staff think it’s ok to leak private citizens’ information for their political gain.
“Paula Bennett is unfit to be a minister. It’s time for her to go.
“The information disclosed by Mr Dennis should have been kept confidential by the Minister. Instead the first thing she did was to brief staff members on the investigation. That’s unethical and irresponsible.
“In Parliament today Paula Bennett refused to confirm whether it was the same staff member that attended the meeting at the Mt Eden café that went on to leak the information to a journalist. This can only fuel suspicion that her staff coordinated the leak with at least her tacit approval.
“The fact that Paula Bennett refused to accept her staff member’s resignation shows she either approved, or tacitly approved, such behaviour. That is simply unacceptable.
“The Minister’s denials should not be believed. She has form in leaking private information to distract when she’s in trouble. She has also said she would do it again.
“Such a culture means her office is clearly given a blank cheque to behave in this way. Her office has breached the code of conduct for Parliamentary staff. She needs to go,” says Phil Twyford.