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Labour's new "error" of partnership

The Government's much vaunted 'new era of partnership' with local government has turned out to be as fake as a 10 dollar Rolex.

"An effusive Helen Clark sat alongside Local Government New Zealand President Louise Rosson on March the 7th this year and told media that a new era had begun, and that her Government was really listening," Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"But the first time LGNZ tried to seek her co-operation, to speak at their conference, Miss Clark turned them down, preferring to go tramping.

"She eventually relented and grudgingly made the speech, but in the process she left a snappy message on Ms Rosson's cellphone, which sealed the doom of LGNZ chief executive Carol Stigley.

"Ms Stigley's job was already in peril because she had dared to criticise inappropriate behaviour by Local Government Minister Sandra Lee over her handling of the Rodney District Council. In a thoroughly unprofessional response Ms Lee banned the LGNZ chief executive from her office, knowing full well that a lobbyist who is barred from access to the Government won't last long in their job.

"The entire incident adds up to a catalogue of Ministerial interference, which prompted LGNZ to sacrifice a capable chief executive to appease Ms Lee and Miss Clark.

"If the Prime Minister genuinely believes Carol Stigley was 'The best person for the job' then she must surely be disgusted at the treatment meted out by Sandra Lee.

"It is clear that an enraged Sandra Lee, whose 'Fury knew no bounds' according to an LGNZ memo, stepped over the line. There may not be any Ministerial Responsibility here, but there's no doubt Helen Clark and Sandra Lee are the Minister's responsible for this fiasco," Jenny Shipley said.

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