How could Social Development Minister Paula Bennett be so stupid as to appoint Christine Rankin as a Families Commissioner? For those who have forgotten, and I can only assume Bennett must have, here’s a brief summary of events under Rankin’s tumultuous reign as Chief Executive of the Department of Work and Income.
October 1998 — Department of Work and Income (WINZ) established and Christine Rankin appointed Chief Executive.
November 1998 — State Services Commission lists concerns about Rankin’s leadership style.
WINZ staff exposed for selling beneficiaries’ private information to debt collectors and “repo men”.
December 1998 to Feb 1999 — State Services Commission conducts a review into security at WINZ.
February 1999 — Rubbish sacks of confidential WINZ documents found dumped on roadside in Waikato. A second security review commenced.
February -Apri1 1999 — WINZ bungles student allowances as students wait for months to be paid.
March 1999 — Rankin told off by State Services Commissioner after “attacking” Green MP Rod Donald through the media.
Education Review Office chief Judith Aitken writes to State Services Commissioner complaining about Rankin’s “inappropriate behaviour”.
April 1999 — Criticisms made of big spending in WINZ on corporate advertisements and uniforms.
July 1999 — News of the WINZ Wairakei training conference breaks – $235,206 spent by WINZ on a training course for 107 staff, including charter flights to get them to and from the conference. Another review of WINZ is started, this time by the Auditor-General.
October 1999 — Auditor-general’s report into the Wairakei affair released. Rankin issued with a “formal warning” by State Services Commissioner.
November 1999 — Performance review states Rankin has an “innovative and unorthodox style” but poses a risk of criticism of the department.
Revelations emerge that Work and Income staff concocted a story to secretly pay more than $100,000 to get rid of a senior executive.
December 1999 — State Services Commissioner asked by the new Labour Government about the possibility of sacking Rankin. He says there are not yet grounds to.
January -February 2000 — Management problems in WINZ with student loans show “no lessons learned” from the allowances bungle.
January 2000 — Revelations that Rankin had sacked an executive over the Wairakei affair and was paying $100,000 plus in a settlement.
May 2000 — The Hunn inquiry is damning of departmental practices at WINZ.
Rankin told she would probably not be reappointed. More legal inquiries over whether she could be sacked.
November 2000 — Rankin formally told her contract would not be renewed.
March 2001 — Rankin writes to Sue Bradford MP threatening legal action without telling Social Services Minister Steve Maharey.
April 2001 — Rankin told about WINZ being merged with the Minister of Social Policy. She writes to Wintringham requesting her performance during 2000-2001 be reviewed. She threatens to sue.
June 2001 — Employment Court hearing in which Rankin alleges unjustified dismissal begins. Rankin loses.
EDIT: I published this before the Herald on Sunday “expose” on Rankin’s private life. I don’t actually support that sort of attack dragging people’s personal lives into their public persona. My criticism of her appointment is based entirely on her past record of extravagance, self-agrandisement, and mismanagement. Her subsequent appearance on Sunday as the “poor maligned star” who read out a prepared statement but refused to answer any questions tends to reinforce my opinion that this leopard cannot change its spots.
I’d be interested to know if it were Sunday or Rankin herself who solicited that “interview”.