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Timberlands evidence to be probed

Phillida Bunkle MP Tue Aug 17 1999

Phillida Bunkle
MPThe Prime Minister faces a grilling in parliament next Tuesday over her involvement in Timberlands' public relations activities.

A new book published today by Nicky Hagar and Bob Burton details substantial evidence of significant contact and cooperation between Timberlands and Mrs Shipley's office, despite the Prime Minister's assurances to parliament that no such contact occurred.

The Prime Minister has today been refusing to make any comment on the issue, but Alliance Environment spokesperson Phillida Bunkle says the Alliance would challenge the Prime Pinister on the issues in the House when it resumes sitting next week.

'The book Secrets and Lies exposes very damning evidence that answers given to parliament by the Prime Minister did not give a complete picture. This is the Prime Minister who wasn't sure about her dinner with Kevin Roberts and who made up her statements on television about John Hawkesby's severance pay. Now there is another serious blow to her credibility.'

Phillida Bunkle said she would lay a formal complaint with the Auditor-General and the State Services Commission over Timberlands million-dollar PR campaigns.

'Timberlands is essentially a government department. It has no role in trying to shape public opinion in support of cutting down ancient trees. Its job is to carry out government policy, not to make it.

'Extravagant spending on public relations to manipulate public opinion is unacceptable and appears to be specifically forbidden by the Auditor's rules on government advertising.'

Suggestions that a fake bomb was planted on a Timberlands helicopter in a dirty tricks stunt to smear environmentalists with an 'eco-terrorism' label should also be investigated, Phillida Bunkle said.

She says the police should launch an investigation into whether a false complaint was laid over the bomb.

'There needs to be a very thorough police inquiry and an independent review by outside officers of the investigation to date. Making a false complaint to police is a very serious offence,' Phillida Bunkle said.

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