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Labour changed contracts to allow paid lobbying

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokesperson

9 October 2003

Labour changed contracts to allow paid lobbying

The Government changed contracts with non-government organisations (NGOs) so that the organisations could support new Government legislation, National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott says.

"There have long been contracts between NGOs and the Government but the difference with the contracts between the Ministry of Health and anti-smoking lobby groups, was that the contracts changed significantly in 2000, to go much wider than informing public debate on smokefree issues.

"These changes, under Labour, included lobbying MPs and adopting a media strategy involving writing letters to editors.

"The additions mean the NGOs have clearly overstepped the bounds of political neutrality. The code of conduct for public servants says they can't be involved in political activity, and the State Services Commission says public servants can't engage in political activity without the consent of a Minister.

"Karen Poutasi should not be claiming the contract is a roll over from contracts in the 1990s when it is not. Her statement shows her willingness to be involved in Government spin.

"Labour changed the rules, so that it could pay $2 million from the health budget to influence MPs on a Labour member's bill before Parliament.

"Today in Parliament the Associate Health Minister couldn't answer whether MPs on the Health Select Committee were told that some groups making submissions to it were lobbyists paid by the Ministry of Health.

"Labour is thumbing its nose at our democratic system by allowing this to happen. It can't blame National for these contracts - it was Labour who changed the contracts to allow this three years ago," Dr Scott said.


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