The State Services Commission must immediately investigate the relationship between the Labour Party and the Department of Internal Affairs’ Office of Ethnic Communities, National’s State Services spokesperson Nick Smith says.
“An article in last week’s Onehunga Community News says the Office of Ethnic Communities is moving into an Onehunga office with Labour list MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan.
“In the article Labour’s Parliamentary Undersecretary to the Minister of Ethnic Communities, Michael Wood, says ‘we have boosted the support that we’re providing in terms with connecting with ethnic communities, so we have more staff members working in our ethnic communities’ outreach teams.’
“Ms Radhakrishnan adds: ‘We’ve got a hub that serves the needs of our wider ethnic community. We will look at holding some events here, where people can come and meet with their locally-based Labour MPs, plus our wider team as well’.
“Accompanying the article is a photo of the Labour MPs and public servants smiling in front of a Labour Party banner.
“Labour cannot fob this story off by claiming the journalist has it wrong. The editor of the Onehunga Community News has confirmed the story’s accuracy and said she has checked it against the recording of the interview with Ms Radhakrishnan.
“A member of the public contacted the office just this morning and was told the office was shared but mainly the Office of Ethnic Communities.
“This is an unacceptable blurring of the boundaries between the Labour Government and the neutral public service.
“We either have a government department inappropriately sharing an office with a Labour list MP or we have Labour MPs misleading ethnic communities by saying the office is a government department when it is really a political office.
“How do people visiting the office know their cases won’t be politicised? Or is this part of the plan announced by Shane Jones for political operatives – “shit kickers” in his own words - to be appointed to the public service to do the political bidding of the Government?
“The SSC provides clear guidance to its employees that they must be careful to keep politics out of their job, and their job out of politics.
“This blurring of lines between government departments and Labour MP offices amounts to soft exploitation of ethnic communities. Labour is misleading members of those communities into contacting and engaging with the office on the basis it is a government department when it is the political office of a Labour MP.”