State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes is supporting the Ministry of Social Development Chief Executive Brendan Boyle in today’s court proceedings.

“Brendan Boyle as the Chief Executive needs to make the decision on how to plead in relation to these charges, and I support him in making this decision,” Mr Hughes said.

“It would not be appropriate for me to make substantive comment on issues being considered by the Courts,” he said.

“WorkSafe New Zealand have an important job as regulator. They have made an assessment and taken the decision to prosecute, which is their role,” said Mr Hughes.

While MSD has entered a guilty plea, it is disputing some of the facts of the prosecution relating to the layout of the Work and Income offices.

Mr Boyle has said he does not accept that Public Servants need to engage with the public from behind barriers. He also said that this issue has wider implications for all government agencies that engage directly with the public and how they organise their public facing offices.

“I support Mr Boyle’s decision to dispute the aspect of WorkSafe’s prosecution relating to what a safe office layout should be, and putting the matter to the Court,” Mr Hughes said. “The Court will now decide, and that is as it should be”.

“All public agencies clearly need to make sure that Public Servants are safe at work – that is a bottom line,” he said.

“We also need to make sure government offices are places where New Zealanders who need to access public services can feel welcome and work constructively with the Public Servants who are there to help them,” he said. 

“I’m appalled by what Russell Tully did,” Mr Hughes said.

“Peg Noble and Leigh Cleveland were committed and long-serving Public Servants who made a real difference in the lives of many people,” he said.

“My thoughts go out to their family, whanau and friends, as well as the other victims and their colleagues in the Ashburton Work and Income Office and the wider Ministry of Social Development at this time”.


Media contact: Tim Ingleton SSC (04) 495-6648

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