(National Party media release)

Labour must come clean on the use of external lobbying firms within government departments and agencies following revelations made by RNZ, National’s Public Services spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Reports out today suggest government departments and agencies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on lobbying firms with close associations to the Beehive to try to manage information flows to the public and media.

“This is after the Labour Government has already massively increased the size of the public service including taking on hundreds of communications staff.

“Government organisations have reportedly been paying lobby firms to find out personal details to assist with lobbying these MPs.

“Lobbying firms are normally hired by private companies to lobby MPs, not hired by government to manage MPs.

“The Labour Government needs to explain what policies it has in place for the use of external lobbying firms by public service departments and whether this is an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money.

“The departments and entities also need to be transparent about how much money has been spent on lobbying firms over recent years and for what purpose.

“All of this has been taking place while Chris Hipkins was the Public Services Minister.

“This seems like an extraordinary waste of taxpayers’ money and one which clearly requires the light of day, so that MPs and the public know what is going on behind the scenes.”