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Greens welcome Ross Armstrong's resignation

The Greens today welcomed the resignation of TVNZ chairman Ross Armstrong, but Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons stressed it was important the broader public interest issues of Public-Private Partnerships not be lost sight of.

Ms Fitzsimons said Dr Armstrong's position had become embarrassing, following the unethical suggestion that businesses could profit from being involved in the policy stage of the Government's PPP initiative.

Dr Armstrong resigned as chairman today from both TVNZ and Industrial Research, following Friday's revelation he signed a letter offering private companies a range of benefits for advising the Government on its PPP policy.

Ms Fitzsimons said the fact businesses were involved in helping design the policy was unethical enough, regardless of whether they were offered inside-track advantages on government contracts as suggested in Dr Armstrong's leaked letter.

"By contributing to policy, the businesses would not only be tailoring the rules to suit themselves, they would also be getting inside knowledge that would help them gain contracts in the future."

Ms Fitzsimons said she always understood the rules for PPP were being developed by the Government - not by industry - and that the rules for PPP would be strictly controlled in the public interest.

"The events of the weekend suggest there was another agenda running, and we will be asking the Government tough questions. We will also seek firm assurances from the Government that the interests of the public will remain paramount in the development of its PPP policy."

Ms Fitzsimons stressed it was important the broader public good ramifications of PPPs not be lost sight of in the personal politicking surrounding Dr Armstrong's resignation.

A number of PPP arrangements overseas, including in Australia and the United Kingdom, had been disastrous for the taxpayer and bonanzas for the private sector, particularly in transport projects, she said.

Conditions for PPP contracts should be very tightly constrained so they did not leave all the commercial risk with the public, while private businesses captured the profits.

ENDS

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