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Alarming claims of political interference at MfE

Gerry Brownlee MP
National Party State Services Spokesman

21 November 2007

Alarming claims of political interference at MfE

National Party State Services spokesman Gerry Brownlee says he is alarmed by claims made tonight about the scale of political interference in the communications unit at the Environment Ministry.

“The claims are deeply disturbing. They point to political interference on a scale that most New Zealanders would agree is unacceptable.”

TV 3 tonight ran an item featuring Erin Leigh, a former communications advisor at the Environment Ministry, who resigned in protest after the appointment of Labour Party activist Clare Curran.

“Erin Leigh said that communications staff were given the impression that Ms Curran had been appointed to look after the Minister’s political interests and she, as a neutral public servant, was not prepared to work for the political agenda of a person or a party.

“She has rejected the claim that Climate Change Minister David Parker only ‘floated’ Ms Curran’s name as a candidate.

“As if the Madeleine Setchell case wasn’t bad enough, Erin Leigh has confirmed National’s view that under Labour there is no longer a neutral public service and that departmental budgets are being used to advance individual and party political agendas.”

Mr Brownlee says it is helpful that State Services Commissioner Dr Mark Prebble confirmed he would be conducting an inquiry into the Minister’s involvement in the employment of Clare Curran.

“But the allegations made tonight go much further than that. I look forward to seeing how Dr Prebble reacts to this latest development.”

Ends

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