Last month, Paula Bennett raised eyebrows when she "settled" her case over abusing Natasha Fuller's privacy with an utterly unrepentant "apology". Someone was curious about whether the taxpayer had paid for Bennett's stupidity, so they used FYI, the public OIA request site, to ask for the details. The result is rather surprising:
I made no private settlement with Ms Fuller as I do not accept that I breached her privacy.Assuming Bennett is not playing word games here - something that cannot be ruled out from this Minister - this is absolutely appalling. But it does explain why Bennett is so absolutely unrepentant: she got away with a serious abuse of her Ministerial office, without having to pay any personal or professional cost at all. And having been allowed to go unpunished, it makes it even more likely that she will abuse her position in a similar fashion in the future.
As there was no settlement there was no settlement cost. There was a cost relating to the legal advice which I received from the Crown Law Office and from a Queen's Counsel. This legal advice was paid for by the Ministry of Social Development.