Right-wing blogger comes under attack from Labour

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 12:29 14/06/2011

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In the spotlight over whether the taxpayer has funded Labour's party activities, deputy leader Annette King has taken a pot shot at right-wing Stuff blogger David Farrar.

Labour has had to apologise to donors after fellow right-wing blogger and friend of Farrar, Cameron Slater, downloaded a party database with details of 18,000 Labour donors.

Its systems have since been updated to prevent future security breaches.

Slater has threatened to reveal any potential conflicts of interest with Labour supporters and King today urged him not to release private information.

''I think he ought to be very careful about releasing personal information about people. Mind you he doesn't really care, so if he has information about anybody here he's likely to release it and enhance it.''

King said she had no time for Slater's ''style of politics and the sort of things he is prepared to do''.

Slater has also suggested taxpayer funded Labour staffers have been working on Labour's database. Parliamentary staff are not allowed to work on party business.

King said Labour was very careful about what its staff did during paid time at Parliament.

''We have looked at it and we have made sure they are doing what is appropriate for them to do.''

Other parties should also check their staff, she said.

''Because I have no doubt that in the past someone like David Farrar setting up his blog, a lot of it was done within Parliament.

''I'm not accusing him of using Parliamentary time but every party has to be careful of what they do in their own time, in their own equipment and in Parliamentary equipment.''

Farrar admits he was working at Parliament when he set up the blog in 2003, and over the nine months he spent working in the National Party's leader's office he occasionally blogged from Parliament.

''But the blog was hosted on the NZ Pundit server in Dunedin. No Parliamentary resources were used.

''I worked an 80 hour week, they were getting free time from me, so the taxpayer didn't pay for my time.''

Farrar was unfazed by King's comments, saying they were carefully worded.

''Annette and I sat next to each other at Downstage last week. We have always got on very well despite having a difference of opinion on politics.''

Parliamentary Services has confirmed it it talking to some people to ensure they are not breaking the rules by doing party work on parliamentary time but has refused to say which party is involved.

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King said Labour had not been questioned by Parliamentary Service.

Questions were raised earlier this month about a taxpayer-funded Maori Party communications adviser being in the Tai Tokerau electorate with the party's campaigning MPs.

- Stuff

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