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Government Must Stop Shielding Weak Ministers

"If Margaret Wilson isn't willing to undergo scrutiny in the House on her performance then she shouldn't be in the job," says National's Industrial Relations spokesman Max Bradford.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday this week Mr Bradford has directed questions about the Employment Relations Bill to Ms Wilson, the Minister of Labour, and both times she has been noticeable by her absence.

The Associate Minister of Labour, Laila Harre has also been absent, and on both occasions the Government has refused leave for the questions to be deferred until a day on which either Minister was present.

"Instead they've put Michael Cullen up to answer the tough questions, or to duck them as was the case," Mr Bradford says.

"These convenient absences might have been believable, had Ms Harre not been visibly wandering around the building just minutes before the questions were asked.

"Face the facts, both Laila Harre and Margaret Wilson have caused embarrassment to the Government in recent weeks - Ms Wilson even being stripped of her driving role on the ERB.

"If these people aren't willing or able to answer their own questions one has to ask whether they're competent to hold such ministerial warrants on a piece of legislation with such wide-reaching consequences.

"The way in which this Government has been shielding these weak Ministers from scrutiny makes a mockery of its claims to promote 'open and transparent Government'," Max Bradford says.

Ends

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