Advisor to Health Minister mixes his work and his politics
20 JULY 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Health Minister’s new policy advisor, Dr Rob Beaglehole, is out of line in appearing on Newshub this morning to lobby for new sugar labelling rules wearing the hat of a Dental Association ‘spokesman’.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “As a Ministerial advisor, Dr Beaglehole is paid by the taxpayer to provide policy advice to his Minister – not to publicly lobby for policy changes on TV.”
“It’s a well-established convention that Ministerial staff are held to strict standards when it comes to mixing their work and outside political activities. In this case, it appears Mr Beaglehole was lobbying for policy change in an area he will be working on directly in his Minister’s office, with access to privileged information. This is highly unusual and requires explanation.”
“Newshub also should be looking at how they introduce their guests. The fact Newshub didn’t declare that Beaglehole is on the Government’s payroll meant viewers weren’t made aware of potential political motives. He’s on the Beehive phone list for goodness’ sake.”
“We’re concerned by this interview because Dr Beaglehole’s lobbying for a sugar tax would have a significant financial impact on the poorest New Zealanders. If someone promoting and lobbying for a policy is actually on the Government’s payroll, viewers deserve to know. Do we take it that the Minister too is lobbying his colleagues for a sugar tax?”