Labour denies doctoring 'hopeless worker' tape

Labour denies doctoring 'hopeless worker' tape

The Prime Minister has accused Labour of running a smear campaign against Bill English after releasing a "doctored" recording of him calling some Kiwi workers "hopeless".

Labour's workplace relations spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway yesterday released a recording from a public Federated Farmers meeting on Friday which was also attended by several journalists.

In that recording, the Finance Minister said some workers, especially ones needed to work in the dairy industry were "pretty damned hopeless" and "don't look to be employable".

See More: Kiwi workers 'hopeless' - English 

Mr English has stood by the claim, saying it was a "realistic description" of the situation, which is echoed by employers around the country.

Labour used the recording to attack the Government's record on employment, but Prime Minister John Key has accused them of altering the recording.

"It's really disappointing actually. They've doctored the tape recording to take out the bit where he says 'this is what some in the industry say', and they've doctored the bit which says 'we need to help these people to make sure they get employment'.

"So in the context of reading the full quote, you can understand why the minister said it," Mr Key said today.

He said there were people who needed a "high degree of assistance" to get into the workforce and some who needed to take responsibility for making themselves ready for work such as clearing up drug habits.

"This is a case of trying to smear a National Party minister and using misinformation to do that."

Mr Lees-Galloway concedes the recording is a partial one and started recording after hearing a question about immigration. He missed the start of the answer, but maintains what was released is accurate.

"Nothing's been rearranged or added or swapped around so I think he's a bit desperate if he's trying to clutch at that," Mr Lees-Galloway says.

"What we produced was a recording of what Bill English said. All I can say is those are the words Bill English used. The only one who smeared the National Party is Bill English."

The recording was stopped after Mr English had finished answering the question.

"His whole speech was the red meat you feed to the National Party conference. He'd been putting the boot in to beneficiaries and state housing and he'd said a lot of interesting things."

Mr Lees-Galloway says the Government has "consistently failed young men" and Mr English's comments were an admission of that.