PM refuses to be drawn into tour guide sacking row

Prime Minister John Key is refusing to be drawn into a debate about the sacking of a vice-president of Actors' Equity as a tour guide, but has defended the right to belong to a union.

Todd Rippon was effectively sacked by Rover Tours after Wellington tourism officials complained about something he said while escorting a group of foreign journalists, here for the premiere of the first Hobbit movie.

Mr Rippon's employer, Scott Courtney, also made it clear to him that neither he nor the Government agency, Tourism New Zealand, were happy about Mr Rippon's union involvement.

Mr Key, who is also Tourism Minister, says he has not been briefed about it and he refuses to comment on an employment matter. However, he says if someone wants to belong to a union, they can.

Next story in Political: Government debt could become 'calamitous': Treasury chief