“The Prime Minister needs to give a categorical assurance that close adviser, former chief of staff, and lobbyist GJ Thompson is not playing a role in the Cabinet reshuffle process”, ACT Leader David Seymour says.
“Mr Thompson is reported to boast about his role as chief of staff in appointing ministers. Last month, Newsroom reported that ‘Those in the industry say he is open about the influential role he played in helping pick cabinet ministers and their staff.’
“This is concerning in the context of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle.
“No one knows how the Prime Minister chooses Cabinet. If ministers are aware of the rumours of Mr Thompson’s influence with the Prime Minister, and don’t have information to the contrary, they’re likely to treat him more favourably as a lobbyist.
“The Prime Minister has said she doesn’t know who Thompson’s clients are, and so cannot know whether his advice is relevant to his clients’ commercial interests.
“While caucus must confirm the leader’s recommendations, this is a formality and the decision is made by Jacinda Ardern.
“Yesterday, ACT revealed that, although the Prime Minister uses Mr Thompson as a sounding board, none of their interactions appear in the Prime Minister’s ministerial diary released on the Beehive website.
“Given the potential for a serious conflict of interest, Jacinda Ardern must give an assurance that she is not seeking the advice of a lobbyist in relation to this week’s Cabinet reshuffle.”