Whistle-Blowers The Victims – And Pressure On Them Again

Whistle-blowers are once again paying the price for speaking out – this time in the Ministry of Transport fraud case, says New Zealand First.

“Heat is being pushed on the whistle-blowers to speak out again as the PM wipes  his hands of the case, and stands behind the then CEO who ignored the whistle-blowers and accepted the fraudster’s explanations,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The PM would do well to recall the criticism of psychiatric nurse Neil Pugmire by the National government of Jenny Shipley. Mr Pugmire risked his job by publicly warning that a patient was too dangerous to be freed from a secure wing at Lake Alice Hospital, after he got no traction from raising it internally.

“National criticised him and ignored the public outcry. Mr Pugmire lost his job, but he was right. The patient was released and went on to offend, sexually assaulting a boy and two other children.

“Mr Pugmire was the scapegoat of a government mess, as are the three former Ministry of Transport employees who lost their jobs.  Whistle-blower legislation followed the Pugmire case but employees are still vulnerable if they speak out.

“Even the State Services Commission, which oversees government departments, is reluctant to investigate.

“State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes is reported as saying the case has been "the subject of a number of independent reviews which have considered all the available information.

“Is he suggesting that the whistle-blowers have to speak out again?

“The PM and the SSC have evidence aplenty that Mr Matthews did not react adequately to warnings of fraud, and Parliament was not told about the issue when he was appointed Auditor-General.

“Clearly the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 is not working, or the Ministry of Transport employees would never have lost their jobs.

“The Act requires internal procedures to be in place to allow for protected disclosures.

“These did not exist under Mr Matthews or the three whistle-blowers would not have lost their jobs.

“The law is supposed to encourage people to blow the whistle if they suspect serious wrong doing. No one will have any confidence now to blow the whistle. They will keep their heads down, and serious wrongdoings will occur.

“Mr Matthews must be stood down.

“The whistle-blowers must be compensated,” says Mr Peters.