Caesar’s wife

A while ago I noted that it was strange that a whole heap of publicly funded organisations and SOEs were using a private lobbying company, Saunders Unsworth, to lobby the minister responsible for their sector.  Many of those organisations were education institutions including Massey University, Otago University, the metro polytechnics and Victoria University of Wellington.

Now, according to the Otago Daily Times, a senior lobbiest from that same agency has been awarded the chair of Education New Zealand, the crown agency which encourages international education.

The ODT notes:

He [Charles Finny] works for Saunders Unsworth, a government relations and public policy firm, where former National Party Cabinet minister Roger Sowry is a board member.

Mr Sowry is also the ministerially appointed chair of both Weltec and Whitireia Polytechnic.

So, we have public education institutions paying a private company so that they can speak to their own education minister.  And that private agency has some of its staff recently being offered key leadership positions in the education sector by the same minister. And the lobbying company has close links with the same political party as the minister making these appointments. It doesn’t engender a public sense of dispassionate propriety by all involved.