Peter Dunne slams Government over 'remarkable inconsistency' over way three senior public servant cases handled

A political commentator says the Government is at "sixes and sevens" over the way they've handled the three senior public servant cases.

It comes as the deputy chair of the Earthquake Commission and Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) Ruth Dyson said she will review her social media use after concern was raised about the political nature of some tweets.

Dyson, a former Labour MP, regularly shares tweets promoting the Labour Party and candidates. She's also taken a dig at National leader Christopher Luxon.

"Oh no.  It sounds like some cruel junior staffer gave Mr Luxon the wrong speech! #Waitangi2023," she wrote last month.

Dyson is the third person to become entangled in a fiasco that has cost Rob Campbell his job as chair of Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand and the Environmental Protection Authority and put Pharmac chair Steve Maharey on notice.

Political Commentator and former United Future leader Peter Dunne told AM Early on Thursday it's an "embarrassing look" in the way they've handled the three cases.

"If you look at the three cases, Rob Campbell, Steve Maharey and Ruth Dyson, there's a remarkable inconsistency over the way in which each one has been treated," Dunne told AM Early host Oriini Kaipara.

"Campbell was fired for making some pretty inflammatory comments, but there's obviously a lot more to that now that we know about it and Maharey gets a clearance when he's been consistently making political comments and yet holding quite senior government positions. I think in Ruth Dyson's case, it's probably more oversight on her part that she hasn't checked her Twitter feeds, but it's a pretty embarrassing look."

Dunne said the way the Government has handled the three cases has come across as looking like they're favouring ex-Labour ministers.

"The problem is, it ends up to the public looking like there's one rule for ex-Labour ministers and one rule for everyone else and the Ex-Labour ministers get a soft ride," Dunne said.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was forced to defend his decision not to sack Maharey.

Hipkins said the Commissioner characterised Maharey's actions as "unwise" but at the "lower end of the spectrum".

Maharey tendered his resignation, but the Prime Minister said that based on the advice from the Commissioner, he and Ministers Ayesha Verrall, Jan Tinetti and Peeni Henare remain confident in Maharey.

Political Commentator and former United Future leader Peter Dunne.
Political Commentator and former United Future leader Peter Dunne. Photo credit: AM

But Dunne believes it was a mistake from the Government not to accept Maharey's resignation.

"I think in the case of Maharey, where he offered his resignation because of what he admitted were inappropriate comments, I think that should have been accepted and the Government moved on," Dunne said.

Dunne believes anyone appointed to these positions needs to be made aware of the code of conduct.

It comes after Dyson admitted she hadn't read the code of conduct, which includes a section on being politically impartial.

"There shouldn't be exceptions or extenuating circumstances or all these other weasel words you use to let friends off the hook while you put other people strongly on it," he said.

"I think this is a case where the Government does look a bit all at sixes and sevens and Chris Hipkins's attempts to try and paper over the cracks are looking a bit shaky."