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Letter to Chief Executive Crosbie requesting confirmation of her political activity

2 November 1998

Ms Heather Abbott
Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive
National Radio

Dear Ms Abbott,

Further to our telephone conversation the Centre is currently considering a case for submission to the International Labour Organisation which will request the Director General of that body to use his powers to instigate an investigation into the actions of the New Zealand government in initiating the Community Wage. This is because the Committee of Experts of the ILO have held in at least two cases, that of Chile and the Federal Republic of Germany, that forcing human beings to work against their will in order to qualify for government benefits is forced labour because it breaches Article 2.1 of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930. The relevant decision here is that the Committee have held that a "penalty" may also mean the loss of the right to benefits; which is also the situation under the New Zealand scheme.

The main thrust of the complaint will of course be the self evident legislation and the correspondence with members of the New Zealand government including the then Prime Minister, the Rt Hon J B Bolger, the Minister of Justice the Hon D Graham and the then Minister of Employment now Associate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income, the Hon P McCardle.

A subsidiary reason for action to be taken in the case of New Zealand will be the view of the Centre that that part of the New Zealand media specifically charged with representing the interests of the people of this country have failed in their ethical obligation to put such matters of principle before the people of a free democratic society. The media the Centre is referring to are of course National Radio and Television New Zealand. While it is understandable, if morally reprehensible, that the privately owned media act out of self interest in apparently suppressing possible breaches of international law, the publicly owned media have no such conflict of interest.

In respect of National Radio the Centre has on at least three occasions made this information available to it. The first was the general press release of February 1997, the second the general press release of April of this year and the third a letter to your Political Editor, Mr A Morrison of 16 October; some two weeks ago. On no occasion of which the Centre is aware has this information ever been put before the people of New Zealand by National Radio. The Centre repeats that is the function of a public broadcaster to act in the public interest and to withhold information of the breach of, at the very least, the spirit of international law - if not the letter- is unacceptable in a western democracy.

Because of possible conflicts of interest on the part of the Chief Executive of National Radio, Ms Sharon Crosbie, the Centre would very much appreciate your comments on the following pro-government actions which are attributed to Ms Crosbie.

First, did Ms Crosbie state publicly on the television programme "Good Morning America" transmitted from New Zealand in 1993 that the reforms of the New Right were necessary?

Second, was Ms Crosbie a member of the committee which set out to define what was to be available from the government of New Zealand as "Core Health" services?

Third, was Ms Crosbie a member of the committee which replaced the British honours system with a New Zealand system?

As I am sure you will appreciate it is considered unacceptable in the advanced western democracies for a senior civil servant who is charged with the administration of an independent radio broadcaster to be so openly aligned with government policy.

The unfortunate coincidence of withholding information which is critical of the New Zealand government's observance of principle, together with the apparent open compliance with the policy of that government, may be considered by the more enlightened peoples of other countries to be a reflection of the views of the organisation headed by such a person.

The Centre therefore hopes that you will be able to show that at all times the Chief Executive was studious in avoiding behaviour which leaves the organisation she heads open to charges of pro-government bias.

As background please find attached a further copy of the views of the Committee of Experts of the International Labour Organisation on the subject of forcing human beings to work against their will in order to qualify for government benefits.

Yours faithfully,



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