Cera in hot water over tweet repeats
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's (Cera) political neutrality has been questioned after it re-posted messages from Prime Minister John Key on social media.
Labour MP Ruth Dyson was upset to learn Cera had posted four re-tweets on Twitter after Key gave a speech last week on the Christchurch rebuild to a business audience of more than 600 people.
She questioned why a Government department, which she said should remain politically neutral, had publicised Key talking up his speech.
She said the "mistake" may have been made by someone unaware of Cera's need to stay out of political comments.
"I don't think it shows a bias but I believe it will be a bit of a wake-up call for them," Dyson said.
Cera told The Press the posts were removed once the "absolutely unintentional" error was discovered.
Its Twitter account has 4680 followers and it follows 197 people - mostly from other Government departments, journalists and community groups.
A left-wing political blogger, known as No Right Turn, slated the re-tweets and said Cera should remain "apolitical".
"Posting National Party material through these channels crosses the line into political activism," the blog said.
Cera chief executive Roger Sutton confirmed the re-tweets were removed after the blogger highlighted them online.
Cera practice was to tweet relevant information using its own banner and not to directly emphasise any political person or organisation, he said.
"When this error was highlighted ... it was immediately addressed by removing the re-tweets and notifying Minister [Gerry] Brownlee's staff as a courtesy."
Sutton also revealed a fifth re-tweet from Key's account was mistakenly put online on June 27 - the day the Government and city council announced their cost-sharing agreement over the city's anchor projects.
That too was taken down once the "error was realised", he said.
It was unfair to infer Cera's Twitter behaviour was political activism, Sutton said.
"The instances highlighted ... were the result of a mistake. We accept responsibility for that," he said.
"There is no desire by Cera to engage in political activism and as an organisation, it remains focused on delivering information about its own work programmes and the other relevant information about Christchurch's rebuild and recovery."
The State Services Act says Government departments must: "maintain the political neutrality required to enable us to with work with current and future Governments."
"Cera does not want to negate its own neutrality and as an organisation it takes its role in providing unbiased, apolitical information about the Christchurch recovery very seriously," Sutton said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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