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Speaking engagements, endorsements, and non-ministerial activities

Speaking engagements

2.94 Ministers receive many invitations to events and offers of speaking engagements. Ministers should consider carefully which invitations they will accept, and try to honour invitations from a variety of organisations.

2.95 Ministers often appear at conferences or other gatherings to explain and discuss government policies and plans. This is an integral function of government, for which the state would expect to meet expenses, and no appearance fee would be expected or accepted.

2.96 If an appearance fee or other personal payment for any non-ministerial activity is offered to a Minister, the Minister may accept it only with the agreement of the Prime Minister. Such a payment must be declared in the Minister’s annual disclosure of pecuniary interests (see paragraph 2.58). Unsolicited payments should be returned. With the agreement of the Prime Minister, fees may be accepted and donated directly to a recognised charity, but must still be declared (with an explanatory note).

2.97 Where travel and accommodation expenses are incurred by a Minister undertaking non-ministerial activities, they may be met by:

  1. the organisers, in which case the travel and accommodation must be declared to the Registrar of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests of Members of Parliament (subject to the exemptions in appendix B of the Standing Orders);
  2. the Minister personally; or
  3. the Crown, initially, in which case reimbursement must be made to a Crown bank account by the person or organisers concerned.

2.98 As senior members of political parties, Ministers are often asked to participate in fundraising activities for their parties, their own electorate organisations, or those of other members of Parliament. Any speaking or appearance fee the Minister receives must be donated to the political party and declared to the Registrar of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests of Members of Parliament.

Endorsement of products, services, or organisations

2.99 No Minister should endorse in any media any product or service. Ministers may, however, appear in party political advertisements, or in non-political advertisements or announcements in the public interest (promoting, for example, water safety), where no fee would be expected or accepted.

2.100 When accepting an invitation to speak or appear at an event, a Minister should inform the organisation that it may not publicise the event, or use any photos taken of the Minister at the event, in any way that could be perceived as an endorsement of the organisation, its products, or its services.

2.101In speeches, it is appropriate for a Minister to speak positively about the objectives and achievements of an organisation or business. It is not appropriate for a Minister to explicitly promote the organisation, or its products or services.

Charitable fundraising

2.102 Ministers may be approached to participate in events designed to raise funds for charitable purposes. In considering any request to assist with charitable activities, Ministers should consider the guidance in paragraphs 2.69 and 2.992.101, noting that charities often operate in a competitive environment. In particular, Ministers participating in any charitable fund-raising activities should be careful not to place, or appear to place, themselves under an obligation as a Minister to those from whom funds are sought.

Business and professional activities

2.103 Because they are expected to devote their time and talent to their official business, Ministers, while holding office, must not take any active part in the day-to-day management or operation of any business.

2.104Provided no conflict of interest arises, Ministers are not required to dissolve any professional partnerships, allow practising certificates to lapse, or dispose of businesses. They may also continue to advise in relation to family trusts, or similar matters of personal interest.

Provision of references

2.105 Providing references is not a government or ministerial role: any reference will be a personal view provided by someone who happens to hold office as a Minister. Ministers should not, therefore, use ministerial letterhead for references. If asked to write a reference for a constituent, Ministers should do so in their capacity as a member of Parliament. Where the subject of the reference is known to the Minister in a personal capacity, for example as a family friend or acquaintance, the reference should be written on plain paper, using the Minister's home address.

Use of information after leaving office

2.106Ministers must ensure that, after leaving office, they do not use any confidential or commercially sensitive information to which they have had access as a Minister in any way that affects their personal interests or the personal interests of their family, whānau, or close associates, while that information is not generally available to the public (see also paragraphs 8.118.13).

Last updated: 
Monday, 20 November 2017

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