Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield on Monday lashed out at Standards Commissioner George Hyzler and said the way he is acting showed how the holder of his office should not be a former MP, let alone a former member of a previous Cabinet.
Speaking in parliament on the adjournment, Bedingfield said he agreed that there should be a Standards Commissioner but standards should apply to all and the commissioner should lead by example.
That, unfortunately, was not the case.
Bedingfield said that the commissioner insisted that parliamentary questions should be answered and answered on time, but was refusing to reply to questions, submitted more than a month ago, about the contracts of his own employees.
The commissioner who rapped the government for employing people in positions of trust and claimed that the system breached the constitution, had himself engaged five of his six staff members on positions of trust, Bedingfield said.
Despite what was expected of the government, Hyzler had engaged his staff without issuing a call.
'Driver on pay scale nine'
Bedingfield posed a series of questions aimed at Hyzler.
Would the commissioner explain why he had hired certain people, including people who had worked in his political office while he was parliamentary secretary, and one who was under the shadow of suspected corrupt behaviour?
Why was Hyzler refusing to give details on how much his consultants and his other members of staff were being paid? Was it perhaps because his hand-picked driver was on pay scale nine, the equivalent of how much a junior doctor, a teacher or a government auditor were paid?
And would Hyzler explain why, in this digital world, he felt the need to handpick and recruit a messenger "with urgency" instead of issuing an internal call in the public service?
Bedingfield observed that Hyzler had been very critical of ministers' spending on advertising. Yet at the time when he was parliamentary secretary, his own minister was asked about spending on advertising, and Hyzler's reply at the time was that such detailed information could not be given until the reason for it was explained.
Perhaps, Bedingfield said, Hyzler could explain why his office only advertised on one newspaper and portal, adding that the commissioner's staff included a person recruited from a newspaper which, coincidentally, seemed to receive leaks from the office.
The way Hyzler was acting, Bedingfield said, showed that it was a mistake to appoint a former MP to this post. He was showing that his heart was still in politics. His reports were issued strategically and timed to harm the government. Perhaps the time had come to consider changes in the law so that future holders of the office would not have previously served in the House.
Hyzler needed to realise that where it came to standards, he needed to lead by example if he wanted respect. And he should not see the speck in one person's eye while ignoring the beam in his own, Bedingfield said.
Hyzler, who served as a parliamentary secretary in the 1998-2003 PN administration, is the first person to serve as commissioner for standards in public life.
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