MFAT leak report underlines badly-handled restructure

The Public Service Association says a report into the leak of confidential Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade cabinet papers serves to underline how badly-handled the MFAT restructure was. Almost two years and $500,000 later, Paula Rebstock has reported that her investigation could not find definitive evidence of who was responsible for the leak. PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott says not only was a lot of time and money spent coming up with nothing in terms of evidence, many people were put through an unnecessarily interrogation-like process which created a climate of fear.

The report has also criticised the behaviour of some senior managers for inappropriately voicing opposition to the changes at MFAT. “That criticism is based on assumptions without any real proof,” says Brenda Pilott. “Despite that, it’s not surprising that some staff had firm views about the restructure given how it was handled and the levels of political interference.

This was one of the most poorly-handled change management processes we have ever seen in the public sector.” “It was a closed-door consultation process which was always a mistake given the nature of MFAT’s work and the implications any change has on staff and their families.”

“The whole process was very constrained and left people feeling disillusioned and angry as they had no way of expressing their views. It should have been handled openly from the beginning,” she says. The PSA says the restructure at MFAT led to redundancies and an exodus of experienced staff, only to see a big increase in the use and amount spent on external consultants and contractors.