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Bennett staying quiet on talks with beneficiary

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Paula Bennett
Paula Bennett

Wellington, May 4 NZPA - National MP Paula Bennett is not discussing how conciliation efforts are going between her and a solo mother she offended by releasing her benefit details, but Labour MP Charles Chauvel says the woman simply wants an apology.

Natasha Fuller was at the centre of a controversy last year after she talked about her inadequate study grant, then saw details of her benefits publicly released by Ms Bennett.

Ms Bennett met Ms Fuller last week and TV3 News reported that there were suggestions the minister had made a monetary offer.

Ms Bennett denied the allegation and Ms Fuller, who laid her initial complaint with the Privacy Commission, admitted she made up a story about being offered money to end the inquiry.

Mr Chauvel said he had helped Ms Fuller with her initial complaint and offered ongoing support. He said she had contacted him via Facebook yesterday and indicated she would like to take up his offer.

"What she told me is that she is not interested in compensation and never has been," he told reporters today.

"What she wants is for the minister to acknowledge that she caused her a lot of pain by giving those details in public, and she would like an undertaking that the minister won't do that to anyone else again."

Ms Bennett, who had asked for an apology from TV3 over its reporting on the issue, said today there was no settlement. "We're still working our way through a process," she said.

Refusing to answer questions from TV3, Ms Bennett said confidentiality over proceedings was under direction from the privacy commissioner and not her call.

Acting Prime Minister Bill English said he had not given Ms Bennett any direct advice, but that Ms Fuller may have made it difficult to achieve "a good, reasonable settlement".

Labour leader Phil Goff said he believed Ms Bennett should disclose what privacy commissioner had said.

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