Taxpayer-funded orgs backing political propaganda
You might have seen this full page ad from Mind the Gap in the Herald on Monday.
Mind the Gap is a left-wing lobby group that argues pay gaps are caused by discrimination, and that the Government should intervene by requiring employers to publicly disclose differences in salaries they pay to different ethnic and gender groups.
Mind the Gap's expensive ad-buy is clearly an example of political campaigning. And that is fine – so long as taxpayers aren't forking out for it.
However, Mind the Gap lists its "supporting partners" on the ad, and some quick research reveals that at least 13 of these organisations are funded by taxes, rates, or other sources of public money.
In a statement to the Union on Twitter, Mind the Gap says the support of these organisations is merely a case of "solidarity", without financial contributions. But of course, even without direct financial contributions, participating in a political campaign absorbs taxpayer-funded labour and resources.
We say that non-government organisations should choose between accepting public funding and undertaking political lobbying.
Here is the (likely incomplete) list of publicly-funded organisations backing Mind the Gap's campaign:
|Socialink||Tauranga City Council, NZ Lottery|
|Good Shepherd NZ||Ministry of Social Development, AUT|
|Global Women NZ||ACC, Auckland Council, AUT, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Ministry for Women, NZ Police, NZ Trade and Enterprise, The Treasury|
|Diversity Works||Internal Affairs, Public Service Commission, Te Puni Kokiri|
|Pasefika Proud||Ministry of Social Development|
|The Period Place||Auckland Council + Local Boards, Dunedin City Council, NZ Lottery|
|Pride Pledge||Kainga Ora, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Open Polytechnic|
|Monte Cecilia||Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Oranga Tamariki|
|Rural Women NZ||Ministry for Primary Industries, Massey University|
|Women in Sport||Sport NZ, Auckland Unlimited, New Zealand Foreign Affairs & Trade|
|E Tipu E Rea||Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Women, Ministry of Health|
Perhaps the government and council entities backing these groups were unaware of their participation in Mind the Gap's campaign. Now that we've raised the red flag, the agencies ought to be seriously reconsidering their support of these groups, lest they find themselves falling afoul of the Public Service Standards of Integrity and Conduct which require political neutrality.
At the very least, government and council entities need to implement a "no-surprises" clause in their support for external groups: if a publicly-supported entity wants to add its financial support or branding to a political campaign, it should have to flag this with its funders first.