New Zealand Labour Party

Government’s data-for-funding backdown embarrassing

The Government’s U-turn on their shambolic attempt to collect private client data from social services is an embarrassment for a senior Minister, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.

“After months of criticism and mismanagement, the Government has finally cut its losses and backed down from its callous demands for private client data from social services in their new contracts.

“The Government tried to suppress a privacy breach of the data sharing portal in January, they ignored the Privacy Commissioner’s advice, and they ignored the pleas of social service organisations and their clients who spoke out against this plan.

“Only after a second breach of the data portal and a damning report which highlighted Anne Tolley’s incompetent management did the Government decide to finally admit defeat.

“Now Anne Tolley has thrown MSD’s Deputy Chief Executive Murray Edridge under the bus despite him ‘having no direct involvement’, and handed this mess over to Minister Amy Adams.

“The Government’s approach to the collection of private and sensitive information from some of our most vulnerable citizens has been shambolic and shows their disregard for the concerns of New Zealanders.

“The Privacy Commissioner made it clear months ago that there was no need to collect identifiable client data. His report also emphasized the need for better security and a method that does not deter people from accessing support. However, the Government blatantly ignored this advice and pushed ahead.

“This whole process has been a sham, with budgeting services having the requirements to share data already written into their contracts despite the Ministry having inadequate security for holding this data.

“The Government’s data grab is leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of people who run, and access, social services. Labour has opposed this Government’s draconian tactics and will respect the privacy of our most vulnerable citizens,” says Carmel Sepuloni.