Government minister Alfred Ngaro has apologised for comments he made regarding a Labour Party candidate's private work.
He told an audience at National's northern regional conference in Auckland that if Willie Jackson criticises the government during the election campaign, he'd lose support for charter school and Whanau Ora contracts he's applied for.
“We are not happy about people taking with one hand and throwing with the other,” Ngaro said. “If you get up on the campaign trail and start bagging us then all the things you are doing are off the table. They will not happen.”
Jackson was the head of the Manukau Urban Maori Authority which runs a charter school in Mangere and has a Government contract to deliver the Whanau Ora social programme.
Senior Cabinet Minister Steven Joyce relates that Ngaro has since apologised for the comments to Prime Minister Bill English, deputy prime minister Paula Bennett.
"He knows he overstepped the mark," Joyce said. "He didn't mean to, he got carried away."
Labour leader Andrew Little described Ngaro's comments as "unfortunate."
"It's totally out of order," Little said. "After nine years of this government, New Zealanders deserve a lot better."
Willie Jackson, who was seen being talked to by the Labour Party's chief of staff ahead of a major speech by leader Andrew Little today, has declined to make any comment on the matter.