Emergency housing providers ionstructed not to talk to media

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has apologised to emergency housing groups after one of its managers tried to gag them from speaking to the media.

Some providers received a directive from the ministry telling them not to talk to media without first talking to it, they told Checkpoint last week.

According to Radio NZ, an email,with the subject 'Media Protocol', was sent by a regional contracts manager, and instructed providers that they must talk to their regional contracts managers if they were aware of an issue relating to emergency housing that was "likely to appear in the media".

The email stated: "You will be aware that emergency housing has been a key area of interest in the media recently and is likely to continue to be into the future. Understandably, it is critical that the Ministry is advised of any media coverage that arises and we need your support to do so.

"If you receive any contact from the media, you should explain that you will need to consult with the Ministry prior to any response being given. All requests received by your organisation for media interviews or information must be immediately referred to your Regional Contracts Manager."

Emergency housing providers spoke to Checkpoint with John Campbell on the condition they remained anonymous, as the directive did not tell them what the repercussions would be if they did speak to media without the ministry's consent.

In another situation, the associate housing minister Alfred Ngaro, suggested Labour list candidate Willie Jackson could expect to lose Government support for his Manukau Urban Māori Authority interest in a second charter school, and its Whanau Ora contract should he "bag us" on the campaign trail.

The Finance Minister, Steven Joyce, says associate social housing minister Alfred Ngaro accepts he was wrong to threaten social service providers who criticise government policies.


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