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National's Caucus Supported Rankin's Appointment, Papers Show

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Christine Rankin
Christine Rankin

Wellington, May 27 NZPA - The National Party caucus supported Christine Rankin's appointment to the Families Commission, documents released tonight show.

They also show that Social Development Minister Paula Bennett chose Ms Rankin and Bruce Pilbrow from 46 expressions of interest in the two vacant positions.

The appointments were announced two weeks ago. Mr Pilbrow's has not attracted any criticism but Ms Rankin's has been mired in controversy.

Sunday newspapers reported Ms Rankin was involved in the break-up of the marriage between Wellington real estate agent Margo McAuley and Kim MacIntyre.

Ms McAuley was found dead in October last year. Ms Rankin and Mr MacIntyre married in January.

Ms Rankin has publicly denied she was having an affair with Mr MacIntyre at the time of Ms McAuley's death, but the Labour Party has questioned her assurances.

In Parliament yesterday Labour MP Ruth Dyson asked Ms Bennett if Ms Rankin would be removed from the position "if it turns out that she has been lying over the last few weeks about allegations that had been made of her?"

Ms Bennett did not respond, and in Parliament today she was again questioned by Labour.

Deputy leader Annette King tried to find out details of the checks Ms Bennett carried out into the rumours about Ms Rankin.

Ms Bennett gave the same answer she has given previously -- that she asked Ms Rankin and was told the rumours were baseless.

She said she had taken Ms Rankin at her word.

The Government issued the documents under the Official Information Act.

They cover the process followed in the appointments of Ms Rankin and Mr Pilbrow, and one notes: "Discussion was held with the Government caucus. Caucus has indicated its support for the appointments."

Ms Rankin's letter of appointment says she will be paid $565 a day for a maximum 100 days a year as a part-time commissioner.

"I expect you to adopt a `no surprises' approach with the commission and raise any actual or potential conflicts of interest at the earliest opportunity," Ms Bennett said in the letter.

The documents show Ms Rankin did declare a potential conflict of interest with her advocacy role with the Families and Child Trust.

Mr Pilbrow also declared a potential conflict of interest with his role at Parents Inc and other board memberships.

The Families Commission said they were manageable and not unusual given the nature of part-time commissioner roles.

The documents did not identify any of the other people who were interested in the positions.

NZPA

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