“The Government needs to answer questions about Nanaia Mahuta fully and swiftly”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Members of Nanaia Mahuta’s family have been appointed to working groups in areas for which the Minister has, or had, ministerial responsibility.
“At the very least, a perception of a conflict of interest exists. As a Minister, Mahuta is responsible for ensuring no conflict – real or perceived – exists between her personal interests and her public duty.
“The Cabinet Manual notes:
‘A conflict may arise if people close to a Minister, such as a Minister’s family, whānau, or close associates, might derive, or be perceived as deriving, some personal, financial, or other benefit from a decision or action by the Minister or the government.’
‘…it may not be appropriate for Ministers to participate in decision-making on matters affecting family members, whānau, or close associates…’
“Even perceived conflicts of interest should be avoided:
‘…appearances and propriety can be as important as actual conflicts of interest.’
“ACT has sought answers on these matters through the Official Information Act and Written Parliamentary Questions. In the interests of openness and transparency, the Government should release the following information proactively:
- What interests the Minister has declared and how they have been managed;
- What processes were followed in appointing the Minister’s family members and who made the decisions;
- Whether the positions were publicly advertised, what qualifications the successful applicants have, and whether the applicants declared conflicts of interest.
“If proper processes have been followed, there should be no difficulty in releasing this information.
“It’s critical that New Zealanders can have confidence that government appointments are being made in an appropriate way. Ministers need to be above suspicion.”