3 Jun 2009

Papers reveal misgivings about Govt advisers

2:06 pm on 3 June 2009

Official papers reveal the Government proceeded with plans to appoint purchase advisers - some being paid as much as $2,000 a day - despite the misgivings of the State Services Commission.

The commission raised concerns about the advisers being paid by Government departments while answering directly to ministers.

The papers, obtained by Radio New Zealand under the Official Information Act, reveal the commission believed the advisers should be paid by Ministerial Services.

However the papers also make clear that Finance Minister Bill English did not want to add to the wage bill of Ministerial Services and was insistent that the purchase advisers should be paid by the departments they were monitoring.

In an e-mail to Treasury, dated 21 January 2009, the commission said the proposal appeared to be setting up a new class of ministerial adviser and that it contained a number of fishhooks.

Labour MP Chris Hipkins says the papers make it clear the purchase advisers should be treated as public servants, rather than independent contractors.

He says this highlights that the Government did not follow the correct procedures and the employment arrangements are highly unusual.