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Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

PM delivers message on Bennett's leaks

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Michael Craig
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Michael Craig

Prime Minister John Key has indicated he was unhappy with Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's decision to make public the details of two solo mothers, saying he had spoken to her and it was unlikely she would repeat it.

Ms Bennett last week refused to rule out taking the same action again after the director of human rights proceedings, Robert Hesketh, said a privacy complaint by one of the mothers had been resolved.

Ms Bennett revealed the amounts the mothers were receiving in welfare payments in 2009 after they criticised the Government's decision to scale back the training incentive allowance.

Asked about Ms Bennett's refusal to rule out a repeat performance, Mr Key said she was asked about a hypothetical scenario and felt she could not rule out every single possible circumstance.

"I've had some discussions with her about the matter, and I think it's fair to say, in my view, it is very unlikely it would happen again."

He did not want to relitigate the matter now it was resolved, but believed it was a politically motivated case with strong feelings on both sides.

He said the parties were satisfied with the outcome.

"I think that's the end of the matter and I don't think we'll be seeing it again."

Natasha Fuller, who complained to the Privacy Commissioner, wrote on her Facebook page that she did not have a grudge against Ms Bennett, whom she described as "a fantastic national welfare minister".

"I do not have any bad feelings towards Paula and understand that this is her job and it's a tough job."

But she said she felt vindicated because the Privacy Commissioner and the director of human rights proceedings had taken her side.

"I have had to settle as it was never going to be a fair fight and one I could never win. I'm proud that I have come so far and tried to stand up for my rights but I now have to put the health and safety of my family first."

At the time, Ms Bennett said she believed the public should have all the relevant information in the debate about the training incentive allowance, including the amounts solo parents already received in welfare.

Last week, she said she now had three years' more experience, and would seek and consider advice but would not rule out taking the same action, saying it would depend on the circumstances.

She said she regretted the personal cost to Ms Fuller, but would not apologise.

- NZ Herald

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