31 Aug 2012

Ministry rejects Waipareira Trust assessment was subjective

8:43 pm on 31 August 2012

A Ministry of Social Development manager is rejecting a suggestion that the member of his staff who assessed the Waipareira Trust's provision of an important Government service and found it lacking was overly subjective.

The trust has taken the ministry to court over its decision to cancel the $1.4 million contract to deliver Family Start services for at-risk families with babies.

The High Court in Auckland heard earlier this week accusations that the ministry staff member and a trust employee disliked each other.

Lawyer for the trust Peter Thorp suggested to deputy chief executive of the Ministry's Family and Community Services department Murray Edridge that the staff member's assessment of the trust's performance was therefore subjective.

Mr Edridge says there was always a degree of subjectivity, but he was satisfied there was also sufficient objectivity.

The ministry has yet to explain to the court exactly why it terminated the trust's contract, other than to say it was due to poor performance - an accusation the trust strongly rejects.

The assessor says she had several concerns about the trust's performance, including that it was not supporting as many families as the contract required and it had failed to deliver "child safety tools" to some families.

She says she was blocked when she tried to discuss these problems with the trust manager, saying he was defensive, unconstructive and some of her questions were met with silence.

The case has been adjourned until 17 September.