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"Home truths" dismissed as "false and defamatory"

Tuesday 25 June 2019

"Home truths" dismissed as "false and defamatory"

A governance review of Home Affairs makes false assumptions and abuses the character and integrity of its members, according to the Committee.

The under-siege committee has hit back after receiving stinging criticism over a lack of strategic achievement, operational interference and allegations of bullying and job threats against staff.

On publication of the report, Policy & Resources members strongly indicated that they would take political action against the Committee if they did not accept and respond to the report's conclusions and recommendations. 

However, Home has given no impression of doing so and members have vowed to clear their names. 

Deputy Mary Lowe, who was accused of being oppressive and a bully, said the report's claims were unfounded. 

"I was shocked when I saw the first copy of their report," she said. "I am not aware of any abuse or harassment that has taken place."

"My Committee would not have just sat there if that had actually happened. Would Deputy Graham, Deputy Prow, Deputy Oliver, Deputy Leadbeater have allowed that to take place? Absolutely not."

She said her committee operated an "open door policy" to staff and service heads - some of whom she claimed had contacted her since the report to say its content misrepresented what they had said in interviews. 


Had she mistreated staff, Deputy Lowe said there would be some formal record of complaints against her before now. 

Vice-President Rob Prow, who along with Richard Graham has resigned from the committee, has already participated in one of the recently-launched governance reviews. 

He said there was something unusual about the "whole process, from beginning to end". 

"This is the second time I have been through this process as I went through it with HSC, which was an entirely different process. For HSC, Professor Staite only interviewed two officers and for Home Affairs she interviewed seven and the whole demeanor and process was different – for example I was interviewed in an office for HSC and over the phone for Home Affairs.

"I believe that the whole process has been biased and my main objection is that it is not evidence-based, it is based on interviews and a matrix scoring system similar to a staff appraisal and such a process should remain completely confidential and allegations have been made without proper research."


Deputy Prow resigned from the committee as he believes he can challenge the report better from the outside. 

The participation of an ex-member of staff who left their post prior to the review has also raised alarm bells. 

"There are a lot of assumptions about us that are wholly inaccurate and unsubstantiated as well" said Deputy Marc Leadbeater.

"For some reason, the selection of civil servants and service heads interviewed included the former head of law enforcement Patrick Rice and that could have been quite pivotal to some of the assumptions that were made.

"It is common knowledge that Mr Rice and the President are not exactly best friends."

Deputy Lowe expressed similar sentiments and said that a Scrutiny hearing earlier this year about the HMIC report of Home Affairs had already seen Mr Rice's criticisms of the committee "dismissed".

"Why have deputies if we have to accept every decision that comes over our desk?"

Deputy Lowe has no intention of resigning, and neither does Committee Member Victoria Oliver. 

"I don’t think I have done anything wrong - if I felt I had it would be different," she said. "I was upset by the report to be honest."

"It is very one-sided I think it shows because of the people she chose to interview. HSC had two civil servants - you are going to see a very different outcome when you interview an ex-service chief that wasn’t happy to begin with. They also didn’t look at many of the committee minutes.

"I feel like it is a continuation on from the HMIC report, where a very small part of it was focused on and people forgot all the good that was said within that. This is just focussing in on the negatives. I don’t think it has done the States any good because there are so many inaccuracies within it."

One of her deepest grievances was the allegation that the Committee does not make evidence-based decisions.

Deputy Oliver said it was their duty to scrutinise and challenge the information they are presented with to make sure it stands up to scrutiny. 

"If we agree with everything that is put in front of us, then why have deputies if we have to accept every decision that comes over our desk?"

Pictured top: The Home Affairs committee members (l-r) Deputies Marc Leadbeater, Rob Prow, Mary Lowe, Victoria Oliver, Richard Graham. 





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