Judith Collins accuses Government of 'playing politics' over Trump assistant Chris Liddell's OECD nomination

Judith Collins is accusing the Government of "playing politics" by not giving Kiwi Chris Liddell the tick to head the OECD.

The dual US and NZ citizen currently serves in the White House as US President Donald Trump's deputy chief of staff, and was nominated by Trump in September to be Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

But New Zealand's left-wing has hit out at his nomination due to his connections with the Trump administration.

With the Government still to make a decision on if it will support Liddell, National leader Collins says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should "front up" if she has a problem with his work for Trump.

"I would have thought that it is always going to be in New Zealand's best interest to have a highly qualified, very experienced person like Chris Liddell heading our OECD. It's far more beneficial to New Zealand than playing politics on it," Collins told RNZ on Tuesday.

"Certainly I noticed that when we were in Government... we supported Helen Clark to both head the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] and also United Nations but also we supported... Mike Moore to take on the World Trade Organisation role.

"There are certain things Governments need to do. One of them is to back New Zealanders and I would have thought it's a no-brainer for the Government to do the right thing - back Chris Liddell unless they've got some other New Zealander who they think has got a better chance."

Collins suspects it's Liddell's work for the Trump administration that's the issue.

"I can't think of any other reason," she told RNZ.

"If the Prime Minister's got something she wants to say about Mr Liddell she should front up."

Whether Ardern will back Liddell's nomination is already causing political tension in New Zealand.

Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman attacked Liddell on Twitter, saying the Greens are "super proud NOT to back terrible people based on their nationality".

"Aotearoa just overwhelmingly voted for governance by values," she said, referring to Labour's landslide election victory. "That would be eroded if a guy like Liddell was the head of a governance body like the OECD."

But National's foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Bridges thinks the Government should back Liddell and show support for a fellow New Zealander because it's in the country's interest to do so. 

"It would be a foot in the door for New Zealand. It would be incredible access," Bridges told Stuff. 

"I accept that a lot of people will confuse his role with Mr Trump's and be dubious about that in New Zealand. From the little I know him - having met him but not knowing him well - he will have his own views, not simply those of the current President."

Liddell also has the backing of ACT's deputy leader Brooke van Velden who agreed with Bridges that New Zealand should back him and that the Greens' opposition is "further evidence" they should be "nowhere near power".

Ardern says the final decision still hasn't been made over who Cabinet will support for the role, and citizenship isn't the only thing to take into account.