PSA supports independent inquiry into Ministry of Transport fraud

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The Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi supports calls for an independent inquiry into how the Ministry of Transport handled a fraudulent employee.

In February Joanne Harrison was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being found guilty of defrauding the Ministry of more than $700,000.

Three Ministry employees were made redundant only two months after communicating their concerns about the Ms Harrison’s behaviour.

Two have now gone public, saying that the concerns they raised led to them losing their jobs.

The Ministry’s new chief executive, Peter Mersi, told a select committee that former CEO Martin Matthews did not acts on repeated questions from staff about Ms Harrison’s work.

"Many of the issues raised in the Joanne Harrison case point to wider problems, particularly how the Ministry handled people trying to raise red flags", PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"It is important that public sector agencies have a culture of openness that enables people to speak up when they see wrongdoing.

"It is important to hold an inquiry to get to the truth behind these allegations as there is little doubt this will have a chilling effect on whistleblowing across the public service.

"It is also particularly important given Mr Matthews’ new job as Auditor-General.

"The New Zealand public needs to have confidence in its public servants.

"It also needs to know that people who raise the alarm will be dealt with fairly - not pushed out of their jobs.

"An inquiry would go some way towards restoring that confidence."