26 September 2023

NEW ZEALAND: Officer in trouble over political posts

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The Deputy Chair of New Zealand’s Earthquake Commission and Fire and Emergency New Zealand has been reprimanded by Public Service Commissioner, Peter Hughes, for breaking the Code of Conduct relating to neutrality in the Public Service.

Deputy Chair, Ruth Dyson, a former Labour Member of Parliament, made social media posts critical of National Party Leader, Christopher Luxon, and the Opposition National Party in general.

Until recently, Ms Dyson’s (pictured) Twitter biography described her as “still Labour”.

National’s Spokesman for the Public Service, Simeon Brown complained to Mr Hughes who agreed the remarks were a breach of the Code of Conduct, although “at the lower end of the spectrum”.

“I have looked at the social media activity you have raised and found the comment made by Ms Dyson is a breach of the Code of Conduct at the lower end of the spectrum,” Mr Hughes said.

“The comment while not engaging in specific political debate, could be interpreted as having a negative connotation about the quality and content of Mr Luxon’s speech.”

Mr Hughes said he had written to responsible Ministers and to Ms Dyson regarding his findings, but he did not intend to take any further action.

He said Ms Dyson had indicated she would “review her social media activity to ensure it meets the standard required in light of her obligations under the Code and moderate her comments going forward to ensure they align with her obligations under the Code”.

Wellington, 18 March 2023

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