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John Key’s admission today that he chaired the committee which appointed his own electorate chair Stephen McElrea to the board of NZ on Air directly links the Prime Minister to allegations of cronyism and political interference, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran.
“The question now is whether John Key declared a conflict of interest personally and stood aside from the chair when Mr McElrea was appointed to the NZ on Air Board, or not.
“Mr McElrea has faced consistent allegations of political interference in the running of NZ on Air since he complained about the timing of a child poverty documentary on TV3 days before the election. His position on NZ on Air is untenable,” Clare Curran said.
“The Prime Minister’s role in appointing him is now under scrutiny. The role of electorate chair in is highly political. Mr McElrea has a close relationship with the Prime Minister. He not only sits on the board of the funding agency for public broadcasting, but also plays an operational role in programming decisions.
“The question that now has to be asked is to what extent is the Prime Minister’s electorate chairman making decisions about how taxpayers’ money is or isn’t spent on public broadcasting?
“The Cabinet Manual requires Ministers to take steps to avoid even the perception of conflict of interest. It appears Mr Key has no such compunctions,” Clare Curran said.