QUESTIONS FOR STATE SERVICES COMMISSIONER
1 Why was the fact that the investigation found that Mr Sutton’s behaviour comprised serious misconduct not mentioned in the State Services Commission’s media release dated 17 November 2014 ?
2 Was the investigation’s finding of serious misconduct not the single most basic piece of information which should have been included in the media release ?
3 What specific conduct comprising sexual harassment would justify the sacking of a chief executive in the public sector ?
4 What specific aspects of Mr Sutton’s behaviour did not always meet the standard expected of public service leaders ?
5 How many times did Mr Sutton engage in this behaviour ?
6 How many CERA employees were subjected to Mr Sutton’s behaviour ?
7 Did the investigation cover his behaviour only towards the complainant or towards other women as well ? If the former, why was the latter not included ?
8 Why did the State Services Commissioner consider that it was appropriate to hold a press conference with Mr Sutton and then relinquish the floor to him ?
9 The State Services Commissioner’s refusal to provide specific details of the conduct which fell below the standard expected of a public sector chief executive and the relinquishing of the floor to Mr Sutton allowed Mr Sutton to characterise his inappropriate behaviour as “Hugs, jokes,” and calling women “honey” and “sweetie.” Does the Commissioner on reflection consider that this was an appropriate way to handle the public release of information about the investigation ?
10 Can the Commissioner point to any other instances in which someone found to have acted inappropriately has been given the floor at a joint press conference by the Commissioner or head of a government agency and permitted to minimise his conduct in this way ?
11 Is this not analogous to the police holding a press conference with someone recently convicted of an offence and allowing that person to minimise the offence of which he or she was convicted ?
12 The State Services Commission media release states that “While the report found that Mr Sutton’s conduct did not always meet the standard expected of public service leaders, it did not recommend dismissal. Although not called on to make any decision in relation to the report, the Commissioner is very likely to have followed the recommendation not to dismiss Mr Sutton.” Why
were these sentences included in the media release, given that Mr Sutton resigned and the Commissioner was not called on to make a decision ?
13 What sanction did the investigation report recommend in relation to Mr Sutton’s behaviour ?
14 Why is there no condemnation at all of Mr Sutton’s behaviour in the media release dated 17 November 2014 ?
15 Why would the Commissioner consider it appropriate for a chief executive whose behaviour had fallen below the standards expected of public service leaders to remain in his position ?
16 Was Mr Sutton advised of what sanction the Commissioner was likely to impose before he tendered his resignation ?
17 Does the State Services Commissioner consider that sexual harassment is a serious issue ?
18 Does the State Services Commissioner consider the way he handled the press release and announcement yesterday have trivialised sexual harassment and made it less likely that women will make complaints in future ?
19 The media release states that Mr Sutton has made “an outstanding contribution” and “His visible and engaged leadership during challenging times will be remembered well for many years.” Why, by contrast, is there not a single word of praise in the media release for the victim’s courage in coming forward to make a complaint ?
20 Why did the State Services Commissioner consider it was appropriate to praise Mr Sutton at the same time as announcing that an investigation had found that his behaviour had fallen below an acceptable standard ?
21 Is it because the Commission considers that sexual harassment is a minor form of inappropriate behaviour ?
22 Was the wording of the media release agreed with Mr Sutton’s lawyer ?
23 Why is there no public apology in the media release from the State Services Commissioner as Mr Sutton’s employer to the complainant for the behaviour to which she was subjected ?
24 Why is there no condemnation in the media release of sexual harassment ?
25 Why is there no statement in the media release telling public servants how to complain if they are subjected to sexual harassment ?
26 Did either Mr Sutton or a lawyer acting for him ask that the investigation report and details of the nature of the complaint not to be released ?
27 Did the State Services Commissioner decide on his own initiative not to release the complaint ?
28 Was the investigation report provided to Mr Sutton before he announced his resignation ?
29 Was the investigation report provided to Mr Sutton at any time ?
30 The media statement dated 17 November 2014 states that “Mr Sutton has decided that a natural point for a change of leadership for CERA is the date at which CERA transitions from being a Public Service department to being a departmental agency hosted by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Therefore, he will cease to be Chief Executive of CERA on 31 January 2015, the day before the departmental agency is formed.” Given that an investigation found that Mr Sutton’s behaviour was inappropriate, why was it Mr Sutton’s decision as to the date of stepping down ?
31 What measures have been put in place to protect the complainant and other women from inappropriate behaviour between now and the date of Mr Sutton’s departure ?
32 If the State Services Commissioner were to reread the media release today, would he be concerned that it sounds more like a glowing endorsement of Mr Sutton rather than a statement condemning inappropriate behaviour by a chief executive in the public sector ?
33 Did the State Services Commission tell Mr Sutton that, if he resigned, details of his conduct would be suppressed and he would not face any sanctions ?
34 Is any additional financial payment being made to Mr Sutton ?
35 Who is paying Mr Sutton’s legal fees ?
36 What undertakings of confidentiality were made and to whom ?
37 Were undertakings of confidentiality made to Mr Sutton and his lawyer as part of a deal for him to resign ?
38 Who are the “parties involved” in the complaint who need their privacy protected, apart from the complainant ?
39 Why would Mr Sutton need his privacy protected in relation to behaviour falling below the standard of that expected of public service leaders ?
40 The complainant has been subjected to public vilification and ridicule since the announcement yesterday. Does the Commissioner consider he has fulfilled his obligations to provide her with a safe working environment ?
41 Why is repeated inappropriate behaviour towards female employees not considered serious enough either by the investigation report's author or by the State Services Commissioner to warrant sacking ?
42 Why was the complainant rather than Mr Sutton directed to work from home while the investigation was carried out ?
43 Why was it considered appropriate for the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to hug Mr Sutton publicly yesterday ?
44 What inference does the Commissioner think the complainant and other women subjected to inappropriate behaviour in the workplace will draw from the hug ?
45 Can the State Services Commissioner provide examples of other cases in which a person under investigation has been kept in the workplace while the complainant has been sent home to work ?
46 Does the fact that this course of action was followed indicate that the Commission prioritised Mr Sutton's reputation and not interfering with his work over allegations of sexual harassment, protection of the complainant and protection of any other employees who might have been subjected to inappropriate conduct ?
47 Mr Sutton's own public comments appear to indicate that he has behaved inappropriately to more than one female employee. What steps will the Commission take to investigate this and to apologise to other women and to protect their safety in the workplace ?