31 Jul 2009

Minister grilled for third day running on beneficiary details

6:05 am on 31 July 2009

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has faced a grilling in Parliament for the third day running, over her release of beneficiary information.

The Opposition is accusing the minister of employing bullying tactics, but Ms Bennett is standing her ground.

The controversy was sparked by her decision to release the benefit payment details of Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston, who had spoken out against cuts in training allowances.

In the House on Thursday afternoon, Labour MP Charles Chauvel sought to cast doubt on whether Ms Bennett had followed the rules for such a disclosure.

The minister said she had operated in an open way and was not backing down from her decision.

Several privacy principles breached - Labour MP

Mr Chauvel, who says that Ms Bennett has breached at least four principles of the Privacy Act, has laid a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner on behalf of Ms Fuller.

Ms Johnston, who rang Ms Bennett on Wednesday morning, says she is no longer worried that her benefit details were disclosed: she just wants the Government to rescind its decision on the allowance.