New Zealand pros caught in ethical row

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND: The PR industry in New Zealand is embroiled in another ethics debate.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND: The PR industry in New Zealand is embroiled in another ethics debate.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND: The PR industry in New Zealand is embroiled in another ethics debate.

Two PR professionals have come under fire for working in government offices part time, while retaining links to outside lobbying firms.

Opposition National MP Nick Smith revealed in Parliament that Tracey Bridges, an account director with Porter Novelli, worked on contract as a temporary press secretary for Labour MP Pete Hodgson, Minister of Energy and for Timberlands, the state-owned logging company.

Porter Novelli held contracts with power company Trans Alta and West Coast sawmilling business Westco Lagan.

Smith also said Immigration Minister Leanne Dalziel's press secretary worked four days a week for the government and one day a week for Morris Communications.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen rejected the allegation of conflict of interest, saying Morris Communications had been doing some work for the Fisheries Commission.

'Very few of the fish have applied for immigration status,' he joked.

He also said there was no conflict arising from Bridges' work.

But Smith expressed his astonishment at a 'blatant conflict of interest.'

'Standards are being severely compromised when lobbyists are working for PR companies one day and government ministers the next. The existing conflicts of interest must end and the boundary between lobbyists and the government must be made clear,' he said.



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