A senior Labour MP has been forced to explain an “error” resulting in a complaint she misused public funds.
Independent Citizens, a local body political organisation in Christchurch, wrote to Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard on Monday with a complaint about Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson.
It alleged Dyson used public funds to send a letter to hundreds of households in Lyttelton endorsing a Labour-backed candidate, Tyrone Fields, in an upcoming by-election to a local community board.
The publication used Dyson’s letterhead and included the House of Representatives crest, typically used to indicate a publication has been paid for using Parliamentary Service funding.
So a letter went on parliamentary letterhead urging people to vote for the Labour candidate for the community board. That is a total no no. And from the office of the Government Chief Whip is worse.
Spending rules, set out in the Speaker’s Directions, prohibit the use of Service money and resources for electioneering publications. This includes the use of email, phone services, postage, email, and staff time.
Dyson said Field’s campaign team “correctly” accessed her letterhead for the publication, but an “error” was made in not removing the crest before it was sent out.
The issue isn’t just the crest. But who paid for the letterhead? Who paid for the printing? Who p[aid for the postage? If the answer to any of those is The Parliamentary Service, then Labour should refund the money involved.