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IRD doesn't trust Labour not to break EFA rules

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

19 June 2008

IRD doesn't trust Labour not to break EFA rules

Inland Revenue has adopted formal systems to monitor the use of its publicity by Labour, in a clear sign that the department does not trust the Government to stick to the Electoral Finance Act rules.

"One of the Government's own departments is sending a signal that it doesn't trust Labour to play by the rules. Who would blame them, given Labour's track record?"

Mr English is referring to documents obtained under the Official Information Act, which show the Inland Revenue Department put in place a publicity monitoring system after Mike Williams confirmed Labour's secret plan to use departmental material as an electioneering tool.

"Even though Labour publicly backed away from its behind-closed-doors strategy, the IRD didn't trust them not to do it anyway. They wisely took steps to protect themselves.

"They were so nervous about Labour misusing their documents that they even compiled a list of MP addresses that would set off alarm bells if orders were placed for large quantities of IRD publicity."

The email trail advises staff that, 'some MPs have more than one address' and that 'we have contacted the stationary [sic] warehouse today to ensure we are advised of any large or unusual orders'.

The papers also show IRD cancelled a significant KiwiSaver advertising blitz because the material was deemed to be too political.

Related emails say, 'I remain concerned that in the current environment it [the KiwiSaver flier] leans too far towards the promotional'.

However, the department told the media at the time the campaign was cancelled because 'we made a commercial decision that it was not warranted because of the high uptake'.

Mr English says the public would be concerned to learn that IRD was feeding them excuses and hiding the real facts.

"IRD should now release that flier, so taxpayers can judge for themselves if it was indeed too pro-Government."


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