Clinton Smith needs to RTFM

The State Services Commission has a very handy website that all public servants should be familiar with and they have been very explicit in what can and can’t be tolerated with relations to political views;

Can State servants have their own political views?

Yes, of course. State servants have the same democratic rights, including the right of free speech, as all other New Zealand citizens. However, State servants need to exercise judgement about whether, when and how to express their political and personal views. Their comments (and actions), whether made in an official or private capacity, must be compatible with the need to maintain politically neutral State Services.

In other words, State servants need to ensure that their words and actions do not compromise the State Services’ ability to demonstrate impartiality in a party-political sense.
What are the constraints on State servants’ freedom of expression?

State servants should not:

  • Express their personal views in a way that could be taken as a comment made in their official capacity rather than as a private citizen.
  • Indulge in personal attacks on individual MPs.
  • Criticise government policy with which they have been professionally involved or which the agency they work for is required to implement.
  • Reveal advice or information given to Ministers (advice may be “officially released”, eg through the Official Information Act process or through public statements made by the Minister, but State servants should not comment or expand on that advice without the prior approval of their manager or chief executive).
  • Disclose information they are not authorised to disclose.

This is because a partisan statement made or position adopted by a State servant may not be forgotten easily and it could colour the way that Ministers (or future Ministers) relate to that State servant or to the agency employing that person. The consequences could be to reduce the credibility of the State servant and the agency (and the State Services generally).

So how exactly does Clinton Smith aka Steve Pierson reconcile the guidelines above with these statements about MP’s?

On Judith Collins: Collins is rabidly anti the welfare state and a nasty piece of work” and “…Collins, a renowned hardliner and champion beneficiary-basher”.

On Gerry Brownlee: Gerry ’sexy coal’ Brownlee has spent today ripping apart more anti-climate change laws.” and “Brownlee not the brighest spark”

I don’t know about you but those comment seem to me to be highly partisan and indulging in personal attacks on MP’s.

I would think that those views would be incompatible with holding a position in the Parliamentary Library, an organisation that previously used to pride itself in the highest of standards with reagard to impartiality and partisan bias. Sadly it looks like that reputation is now in tatters.