The State Services Commissioner, Michael Wintringham, today announced that he has appointed Ms Helen Cull, a Wellington-based Queen's Counsel, to lead his inquiry into matters relating to Fisheries management. This inquiry will address the allegations made regarding fisheries management, particularly in relation to the Scampi fishery...

The State Services Commissioner, Michael Wintringham, today announced that he has appointed Ms Helen Cull, a Wellington-based Queen's Counsel, to lead his inquiry into matters relating to Fisheries management.

This inquiry will address the allegations made regarding fisheries management, particularly in relation to the Scampi fishery.

Mr Wintringham said the public must have confidence in the management of this important national resource.

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Ms Cull has practised as a barrister sole since 1990, and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1997. She has chaired many inquiries into issues involving public confidence in the delivery of services in the State sector. Her most recent report was the Cull report on the handling of patient complaints and she is currently finalising an inquiry into South Auckland mental health services.

The inquiry will be conducted under the State Sector Act (see below).

Mr Wintringham said Ms Cull will review all the material in relation to this matter, interview the people concerned, and report to him on any action that should taken as a result of the inquiry. Ms Cull will conduct the inquiry with David Smyth, one of the Commission's Deputy Commissioners.

"The inquiry's terms of reference are currently being developed, and will take into account the terms of reference being developed for the Select Committee review.

"The review report and recommendations will be publicly released. On the basis of the report and, if necessary, any matters arising from the Select Committee inquiry, I will either commission further action myself or place it in the hands of those for whom it is more appropriate to take action," Mr Wintringham said.

Mr Wintringham said he expected to complete the inquiry early next year.

"In the meantime, neither I, nor Ms Cull, will comment publicly on the inquiry," Mr Wintringham said.

Further information: Karen Jones, State Services Commission, ph 04 495 6657 or 021 1369618.

Background information:

The State Sector Act enables the State Services Commissioner to carry out inquiries in the Public Service (section 8).

In carrying out inquiries, the Commissioner has same powers as a Commission of Inquiry has to summon witnesses and receive evidence, including taking evidence on oath (section 25).

The State Sector Act allows the Commissioner to appoint "any person" to conduct an investigation on his behalf. Such persons likewise may exercise those Commission of Inquiry powers (section 25 (2)).

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