18 May 2009

PM stands by Rankin appointment

10:49 pm on 18 May 2009

Prime Minister John Key is holding firm on the appointment of Christine Rankin to the Families Commission but has made it clear he only wants to hear her talking about work-related issues.

Ms Rankin was a controversial figure in the 1990s as the head of Work and Income.

She is one of seven commissioners and was appointed to the part-time role last week.

Questions have now been raised about the timing of Ms Rankin's most recent marriage, a few months after the death of her husband's previous wife.

United Future leader Peter Dunne has again called for Ms Rankin to decline the role of commissioner, saying she has provoked too much controversy before even taking up the position.

Mr Dunne says Ms Rankin is totally unsuitable for the job. He believes the Government has made a bad appointment and he wants Mr Key to actively address the issue.

Mr Dunne, the architect of the Families Commission, says the public feedback he has received has been evenly split.

He told Nine to Noon there should be no controversy attached to an appointment of this nature.

However, Mr Key stood by the appointment on Monday, saying that as long Ms Rankin stays focused on promoting the rights of abused children, she can be effective on the Families Commission.

Mr Key says she has a credible track record as an advocate for children and the appointment will stand.

The Prime Minister says as a rule, the private lives of individuals are not looked into before appointments are made.

But in a clear warning to Ms Rankin, Mr Key says he only wants to hear her talking about work related to the commission, and not her private life.

Ms Rankin has been unavailable for comment.