Public Service Commissioner says former Labour Minister Ruth Dyson's tweets were political

Former Labour Minister Ruth Dyson has kept her job after an investigation into whether her tweets were politically neutral.

The Public Service Commissioner looked into Dyson's social media after a complaint from the National Party's Simeon Brown.

Dyson is the deputy chair of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) board and until last week boasted in her Twitter biography that she was "still Labour".

Dyson regularly shares tweets promoting the Labour Party and candidates. She also took a dig at National leader Christopher Luxon.

"Oh no. It sounds like some cruel junior staffer gave Mr Luxon the wrong speech! #Waitangi2023," she wrote last month.

The heads of public sector agencies are bound by a code of conduct that requires them to be politically neutral.

Following the complaint, Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes looked at Dyson's social media and found the comment was a breach of the code "at the lower end of the spectrum".

"The comment while not engaging in specific political debate could be interpreted as having a negative connotation about the quality and content of Mr Luxon's speech."

Hughes said that could be seen as providing "generally unfavorable commentary" about Luxon and National while being favourable towards Labour by retweeting tweets celebrating their achievements.

Dyson told Hughes she would review her social media to ensure it met the standard required. Hughes said he didn't intend to take any further steps.

Dyson has recently removed "still Labour" from her Twitter biography.

Her tweets became embroiled in the fallout of Rob Campbell being sacked as the head of Te Whatu Ora for citicising National in a LinkedIn post.

Dyson told media it was "a good suggestion" that she should have gone through her social media before taking the FENZ role.

She wouldn't say "off the top of my head" if guidance about political neutrality was clear before the Campbell controversy.

"I would be really happy to read through the guidance we were given and see if they were clear enough. The induction days are pretty rigorous for a board. There is a lot that you get told. That's not a big part of it."

She then admitted she hasn't read the code of conduct, which includes a section on political impartiality.

"I didn't think of it."

Asked if she signed the code of conduct, Dyson said she doesn't think "that's a process that board members go through".

She then said she doesn't wish she read it and walked off, calling the questioning "silly".