Newsroom Special Inquiry

Anxiety as Maxwell investigation again delayed

An inquiry into bullying allegations levelled against Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell has been delayed for a second time, with no answers on when - or if - its findings will be released.

A former employee of Maxwell’s says the delay will further prolong their anxiety and uncertainty as they wait for its conclusions to be shared with them.

Last November, Newsroom revealed more than a dozen former staff at the Commission for Financial Capability had raised concerns about a culture of bullying and mismanagement led by Maxwell, with several saying their mental and physical health had suffered as a consequence.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi announced the State Services Commission would carry out an investigation into the bullying claims, which Maxwell has denied, with employment law specialist Maria Dew QC appointed to lead the work.

Dew was originally due to submit her report to State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes by the end of February.

Delayed once, and again

However, on February 28 a SSC spokesman said the deadline had been extended to “the first week of April” so the investigator could speak to witnesses who had been unavailable over the summer period.

That deadline has now been missed, with no explanation of the reason for the second delay.

A SSC spokesman told Newsroom the inquiry was “taking longer than expected”, but did not offer any further details on when it was likely to be completed or what was behind the hold-up.

“These things cannot and should not be rushed. It’s more important that we get it right,” the spokesman said.

In a similarly-worded statement, Faafoi told Newsroom: “While I had hoped to have received the report by now, it is important to get these things right.”

Faafoi was also unable to shed any light on what would happen with the report once it was finished, saying: “Without having any knowledge of the findings, I can’t make any further comment as to plans for [their] release or management.”

“It extends the anxiety, because you don’t know what’s going to come out: you don’t know if they’re going to come out and say, ‘You’re all a bunch of wusses and you should have got over it’, or... something different.”

News of another delay has been received with concern by some of Maxwell’s former employees who have participated in the inquiry.

One former employee told Newsroom the investigation had been “right in front of my mind” since it was announced.

“I’ve been, not counting down the minutes, but always aware of how much longer it is until the date set.”

While they did not want the investigation to be rushed, the further delay was unlikely to be helpful to those who had participated.

“It extends the anxiety, because you don’t know what’s going to come out: you don’t know if they’re going to come out and say, ‘You’re all a bunch of wusses and you should have got over it’, or ... something different.”

Maxwell did not respond to a text message and voicemail from Newsroom seeking comment on the delay and whether she was happy for the report and its findings to be made public.

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