• Jenny Shipley
State Services

The Minister of State Services, the Hon Jenny Shipley, says the release of information provided by the Public Service during the coalition talks shows how the political neutrality of the Public Service has been maintained.

The documents, which have been released today by the State Services Commissioner, Don Hunn, were those supplied by government departments during the coalition talks.

Mrs Shipley says the documents demonstrate the coalition talks were supported by access to the expertise available in the Public Service, for any political party which sought assistance.

"Before the general election, the government established the principle that parties which were engaged in government formation would have access to the Public Service, so that they could request information and analysis around particular policy issues.

"After the election, the Government set up the system to manage that access. The system provided confidentiality for political parties which used it while the talks were underway. The Government was careful to ensure that the political neutrality of the Public Service was maintained. The system was announced publicly, and parties represented in Parliament were advised.

"The State Services Commissioner managed the process in accordance with the Government's directions. The public can be assured that the political neutrality of public servants was preserved during the establishment of the first MMP Government."

"The political parties which sought information and analysis from the public service during the coalition talks, can be confident the Public Service treated in confidence those requests and the responses which were supplied."

Mrs Shipley says she consulted the Leader of the Labour Party, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, before the documents were released.

"The Labour party drew on the expertise of the Public Service during the talks. I therefore took the step of advising Helen Clark of the imminent release of the documents, including those supplied to the Labour party.

"From the time it was known an agreed information system was in place, there has been a public expectation the papers would be released. All chief executives were advised their papers would be subject to the Official Information Act in the same way as any other Public Service documents.

"I fully support the view that the public is entitled to know what material was supplied by the Public Service to the political parties involved in the coalition negotiations. They will be of interest to a wide range of people, and I hope they will contribute to a constructive debate on how improvements might be made to the difficult and sensitive processes of government formation."