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It beggars belief that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today admitted she has no idea whether her Education Minister, Associate Education Minister or Employment Minister have declared actual or perceived conflicts of interest in relation to partnership schools, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Paula Bennett says.

“Declaring actual or perceived conflicts of interest with the Cabinet Office is an incredibly important part of protecting both ministerial interests and the organisations that Ministers are involved in.

“It ensures there are no improper interactions between a Minister exercising their responsibilities as Minister and organisations that might have an interest in decisions made by the Government.

“Ministers who are local MPs have, in the past, registered their perceived conflicts of interest in dealing with local schools. 

“Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis has admitted to the House that he has been involved in negotiations and conversations with partnership schools in his electorate. This despite the very clear guidance from the Cabinet Manual which says ‘Where the member also holds the relevant portfolio or is the Associate Minister, further measures, as set out in paragraphs 2.73 – 2.74, are likely to be needed to manage any possible conflict.’

“This clearly shows that Kelvin Davis should have declared his actual or perceived conflicts in relation to partnership schools.

“And yet today, when pressed on whether she had checked the register of conflicts of interest – or even asked the Cabinet Office - the Prime Minister admitted that she had not and felt no need to.

“Frankly, I’m surprised that the Cabinet Office hasn’t proactively addressed this with the Prime Minister.

“This is a serious matter and the Prime Minister should deal with conflicts of interest appropriately and within the parameters of the Cabinet Manual,” Mrs Bennett says.

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