Don’t slam public servants, Mr Brownlee – fund them


Scientists who work for the government must be allowed to voice their concerns without public vilification by government ministers, the PSA says.

Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee hit out at the director of Geonet, Dr Ken Gledhill, who has called for more funding and round-the-clock staffing for the tsunami early warning system.

Instead of recognising the stress and pressure which would lead to a senior public servant speaking out, Mr Brownlee chose to go on the offensive, saying Dr Gledhill’s comments were “unreasonable”.

“We absolutely back Dr Gledhill’s decision to draw attention to the limited staffing at GeoNet in the face of criticisms of his service,” PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says.

“Dr Gledhill clearly has deep concerns about the way our early warning systems operate and he should be free to speak publicly.

“That is his right as a scientist, and he should be able to voice his concerns without vilification by the government.”

Ms Polaczuk welcomes Mr Brownlee’s assurance that the government was open to staffing GeoNet on a 24-7 basis.

“Last week’s quakes have thrown up many examples where our early warning systems have not worked well,” Ms Polaczuk says.

“This is exactly the sort of service that the government should be spending money on, rather than tax cuts.“