Former Labour MP Ruth Dyson let off with a warning after public service neutrality breach

Former MP Ruth Dyson has been let off with a warning after breaking the Cod of Conduct for Crown Entity boards. Photo / NZME

The deputy chairwoman of the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) Ruth Dyson has been told off by Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes for breaking the Code of Conduct relating to the neutrality of the public service.

Dyson, a longstanding former Labour MP, had made social media posts critical of National leader Christopher Luxon and the National Party.

Her Twitter biography until recently described her as “still Labour”.

Last month, she tweeted “Oh no. It sounds like some cruel junior staffer gave Mr Luxon the wrong speech! #Waitangi2023″.


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The tweet came to light after the Rob Campbell affair put the spotlight on public sector neutrality.

National’s public service spokesman Simeon Brown complained to Hughes and Hughes agreed the remarks were a breach of the Code of Conduct, although “at the lower end of the spectrum”.

“I have looked at the social media activity you have raised and found the comment made by Ms Dyson is a breach of the Code of Conduct at the lower end of the spectrum.

“The comment while not engaging in specific political debate could be interpreted as having a negative connotation about the quality and content of Mr Luxon’s speech.


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“This could be seen as providing generally unfavourable commentary about the current National party leader and a particular political party whilst having favourable content towards another party on the same platform. For example, by retweeting commentary that links to the ‘Our achievements’ page of the Labour party website and tweets made by others of a political nature,” Dyson said.

Hughes said he would have written to responsible ministers and to Dyson herself regarding his findings, but he did not intend to take any further action.

He said Dyson had indicated she would “review her social media activity to ensure it meets the standard required in light of her obligations under the code and moderate her comments going forward to ensure they align with her obligations under the code”.

Brown said Dyson’s tweets “demonstrated her wilful ignorance of the Code of Conduct she was expected to abide by in her public sector governance roles”

“Political neutrality is a critical safeguard to ensure the public service can serve the Government of the day, no matter which party holds office,” he said.

Brown said that she was “not fit to hold any board positions in the public service.”

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