Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Health Dollars Spent Lobbying MPs

Health Dollars Spent Lobbying MPs

ACT New Zealand Finance Spokesman Rodney Hide today revealed in Parliament that the Ministry of Health has been paying anti-smoking groups to lobby MPs and the media to support a law change to ban smoking in bars and RSAs.

"Public servants can't lobby MPs. They can't pay interest groups to do it for them. Paying ASH, the Smokefree Coalition and Aparangi Tautoko Auahi Kore to lobby MPs in support of a law change is a misuse of public funds and a breach of the Public Service Code of Conduct," Mr Hide said.

"The Health Ministry is no longer politically neutral. It has orchestrated a political campaign on MPs and through the media to effect a law change.

"The five contracts total $2,114,500, excluding GST. That is money meant for health care - not lobbying MPs and writing letters to the editor.

Under these contracts, Aparangi Tautoko Auahi Kore is required to "promote a supportive public climate for enhancing smokefree environment protection in legislation", "engage and secure support from the public [and] political networks", "visit key portfolio MPs and Maori MPs", "make formal submissions and presentations to the Select Committee considering legislative change" and "develop and support a media strategy".

"ASH is required to appear on TV, radio or in newspapers at least 50 times a year, publish and distribute "Media and Political Updates at least six times a year" and "liaise with ... members of parliament [and] political parties ... to raise awareness of tobacco related issues and developments".

"The Smokefree Coalition is required to "create a climate of support for amendments to the Smokefree Environments Act", lobby policy-makers, make submissions, issue media releases and write letters to the editor.

"Just as bad, these supposedly independent interest groups aren't allowed to criticise the Government without first discussing it with the Government, and vice versa! Taxpayers' money has been paid in an attempt to silence these lobby groups.

"It was different for Kit Richards. Prime Minister Helen Clark declared it `completely unacceptable within a public sector organisation' for him as a Timberlands' employee to send an email to lobby groups advising them to target certain Ministers. He lost his job.

"We now have Ministry officials paying interest groups to lobby certain MPs. It's a misuse of health funding, a breach of the Public Service Code of Conduct, and more rank hypocrisy from this government," concluded Rodney Hide.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why Fair Pay Agreements Should Be Embraced

Are Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) truly the work of the devil? Given the vehement response to them last week by (a) employer groups and (b) by their parliamentary friends on the extreme right, you could be forgiven for thinking these FPA things will mean curtains for commerce as we’ve known it for the past 30 years. Believe me, they won’t. Less excitable types will regard FPAs as heralding only a mild shift towards a more centralised form of bargaining over wages and conditions, much akin to what other successful economies (eg Germany) have recognised for decades... More>>


Government: Further Action Against Gang Crime

The Government will make it illegal for high risk people to own firearms by introducing Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs) that will strengthen action already taken to combat the influence of gangs and organised crime to help keep New Zealanders and their ... More>>


Maori Party: Whakatōhea High Court Decision

“We applaud the Whakatōhea High Court case that has now set a precedent for Māori rights and interest in their foreshore and seabed. It’s an outstanding decision because the Court recognises all reclaimed lands with significant and boating traffic” ... More>>


Judith Collins: Speech To Lower North Island Regional Conference

Good morning, delegates. It’s an absolute privilege to be speaking to you all here today as your leader. I’d like to acknowledge National Party President Peter Goodfellow, my fellow board members, my lower North Island colleagues and all of ... More>>

PM: Statement On The Speaker And Annual Review Debate

“The serious issue of alleged sexual assault and harassment at Parliament was poorly managed and inappropriately politicised last night. The tone of the debate did not reflect well on Parliament as a whole,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. ... More>>

Parliament: Mallard Fails To Give Taxpayers A Straight Answer

Trevor Mallard has confirmed he is unfit to be Parliament’s Speaker by failing to answer several important questions relating to the false rape accusation saga that cost taxpayers more than $330,000, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says. ... More>>

Local Government: Independent Review To Explore Future

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says an independent review of local government will explore how councils can maintain and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders in the communities they serve long into the future. More>>


PM Ardern And PM Morrison: Commencement Of Two-Way Quarantine-Free Travel Between Australia And New Zealand

Joint Statement by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern Commencement of two-way quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand Today, Australia and New Zealand have fulfilled their commitment to establish two-way quarantine free ... More>>




InfoPages News Channels