Green Party use (and abuse?) of “support staff”

Yesterday a Keeping Stock blog pointed out a Green Party job advertisment on Student Job Search:

Petition against asset sales
The Green Party

Job Summary 

Do you hate the proposed asset sales bill? Why not get paid to gather support from the public and show the government that New Zealand doesn’t want it to happen!

Job Description 

Do you hate the proposed asset sales bill? Why not get paid to gather support from the public and show the government that New Zealand doesn’t want it to happen!

A commenter pointed out a similar advertisement on the Green Party website:

Out-of-Parliament support for Green MPs

The Green Party seeks to appoint staff to assist MPs with their work outside Parliament.

The positions will be based in Auckland (6 positions available), Wellington (3), Christchurch (2), Dunedin (1) and Hamilton (1).

Based in our out-of-Parliament offices these roles are predominantly tasked with collecting signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on asset sales. Staff will be required to engage with the public to raise awareness of the petition and gather signatures at a variety of locations (train stations/main streets/sports events, etc.). Data entry duties will also be required.

These roles require excellent interpersonal and organisational skills. Experience is desired in community engagement, cold-calling, direct customer relations, public campaigns and data entry.

The Parliamentary Service appoints on merit and is committed to EEO and good employer principles.

This was also covered on Kiwiblog: Are the Greens using taxpayer funds to get signatures for their petition?

Is this a reasonable use of Out-of-Parliament support staff – to be anti-government political activists?

What are Out-of-Parliament support staff for? From a job description:

Parliamentary Service Job Description

Position: Out-of-Parliament Support Staff to Member of Parliament
Branch: Member Support

1. Purpose of Parliamentary Service
Parliamentary Service provides administrative and support services to members of Parliament. These services include providing members with secretarial and personal assistance; members’ and ex-members’ travel; policy advice; personnel and accounting services to members and other agencies; research and information services; catering services; looking after the buildings and the way they run; and all the administration associated with these things.

2. Purpose of Position
To provide high quality support required by Members of Parliament to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities to Parliament and the public of New Zealand, in an ever changing and complex environment, interacting with a diverse range of people including the public, community and sector groups, and Government agencies.

3. Key Responsibilities/Accountabilities
The following are the key responsibilities of the Out-of-Parliament Support Staff member. The exact mix and the time to be spent on each responsibility will be determined by the member.

  • Managing public / constituent access
  • Management of the member’s out-of-Parliament office
  • Secretarial / Administration
  • Liaison / Representation
  • Research and Information

Does gathering petition signatures for a citizen initiated referendum come within these criteria? Or are the Greens using Parliamentary Services to pay for party activists?

5 Comments

  1. When they were re-writing the law on Parliamentary Spending, I made a submission that they should prohibit the spending of Parliament money on collecting and advertising for signatures. The MPs on the committee (all parties except maybe Anderton?) unanimously rejected my submission.

    • Pity, but maybe not a surprise, they probably to want their funding options left open. Graeme, when you make submissions it would be good to try and get some support for you to add try and weight to what you propose. What about some sort of blog hub trying to gather like voices? There’s always strength in numbers.I probably wouldn’t always agree with you but would seriously consider anything you submit, and there should be more support out here.

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