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Conflict of Interest Management by NZ Airforce

Drew Mackenzie-Kay made this Official Information request to Ministry of Defence

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From: Drew Mackenzie-Kay

Dear Ministry of Defence,

This request for information concerns the potential misuse of public resources by current service person, former National Party candidate, National Part prospective Candidate and current National Party Otaki Electorate Chair Tim Costley. I have received information that Wing Commander Tim Costley may have (a) misused his authority as an Airforce officer to use aircraft flights for his own personal benefit to attend National Party Events, and (b) promoted national party and personal interests during paid Airforce engagements.

In accordance with the Official Information Act, can you please supply the following information:

1. Confirmation of any Defence Force aircraft flight movements where Tim Costley was the pilot in command, a member of flight crew, or carried as a passenger on the following dates (which correspond with National Party Events):
• 7,8,9 and 10 May 2021, with Napier being the arrival or departure location
• 6, 7, 8 and 9 August 2021, with Auckland being the arrival or departure location
• 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 August 2022, with Christchurch being the arrival or departure location

2. Details of the aircraft involved, the operational purpose and approvals of any relevant flight movements noted above

3. If carried as a passenger on any flight movement noted above, whether Tim Costley was ‘on duty’ or not

4. The estimated hourly running cost for each flight movement outlined above

5. Whether Tim Costley was approved (and by who) to appear at the following day-time events as a representative of the airforce, and whether he took paid or unpaid ‘leave’ or not:

21 or 22 October 2022 – Grey Power Horowhenua
5 October 2022 - Electra Business Breakfast
25 August 2022 – Probus
28 July 2022 -Otaihanga lunchtime event with Shane Reti
24 March 2022 – Full day with Chris Luxon
21 March 2022 – Full day with Nicola Willis
9 February 2022 – Full day with Simeon Brown, in Levin and in Peka Peka
17 or 18 November 2021 – Judith Collins in Waikanae
16 November 2021 – University of Otago MBA presentation
11 November 2021 –Full day with Matt Doocey
5 November 2021 – Electra Business Breakfast
19 October 2021 – Submission to Kapiti Coast District Council
4 or 5 August 2021 – Levin Probus presentation & Kapakapanui school
8 July 2021 – Waikanae public meeting with Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis
16, 17 and 18 June 2021 – Mount Maunganui – National Party meeting
13 June 2021 – Levin lunch with Ian McKelvie
17 May 2021 – Rebus Levin
20 April 2021 – Speldhurst event with 4 MPs

6. All information relating to protocols or how conflicts of interest between Tim Costley’s role as a National party Office holder / candidate and his role within the airforce are to be managed.

7. Confirmation of the applicable parts of the Defence Force Code of Conduct to service people engaging in political activities, namely whether:
a. There is a requirement for members of the NZDF to maintain, and importantly, to be seen to maintain political neutrality while fulfilling the requirements of their role within the NZDF.
b. Members of the NZDF are to ensure that when exercising their right to participate in political activities, they conduct themselves in a manner is seen to remain politically neutral.
c. Members of the NZDF must exercise judgement as to whether, when or how to express their political and personal views. For example they are not to: (1) express their personal views in a manner that could be taken as a comment in their official capacity; (2) indulge in personal attacks on Members of Parliament;
d. Members of the Armed Forces in uniform are not to take an active part in the proceedings of political meetings.
e. Members of the Armed Forces who have advised of their intention to stand for election to Parliament and are actively electioneering may be required to proceed on AL, LWOP or leave of absence at any time prior to nomination day.

8.Whether the NZDF has completed an assessment or ongoing monitoring of Tim Costley’s compliance with any Code of Conduct obligations, particularly given public comments made on social media platforms by the service person about local MP Terisa Ngobi, the Labour Party and Government policy.

Yours faithfully,

Drew Mackenzie-Kay

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Ministry of Defence

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Kia ora Drew,

Please see the attached response to your Official Information Act request.

Ngā mihi,
Ministry of Defence

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