Labour Minister Simon Bridges says he was aware of a smear campaign on the Whale Oil blog on union cleaning contracts for Government buildings - but it had no influence on his decision to change them.

Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics raised questions about the Government axing of its agreement to hire cleaning companies for state buildings only if they were members of the Building Service Contractors of New Zealand (BSC) industry body.

It suggested a link between Dunedin-based company Crest Commercial Cleaning and Whale Oil posts critical of the BSC in 2012 and 2013.

In May, Mr Bridges announced that the Government was dropping the BSC agreement. But yesterday, he said that the decision had nothing to do with Whale Oil or Crest.


"We know that [blogger] Cam Slater or Whale Oil had a series of posts critical of me. If anything, those posts made me less likely to make the changes we made, not more likely.

"His posts were counter-productive, but in the end, the advice was very clear, so we made the changes."

He said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had proactively looked at the arrangement, and advised that it be dumped. "It was uncompetitive, it wasn't having any kind of the desirable effect in terms of health and safety, or employment standards. It was also a real outlier in terms of Government procurement and also I think [World Trade Organisation] rules," Mr Bridges said.

"I've gone back to double-check. I'm not aware of any lobbying from anyone about these issues."

The decision "certainly had nothing to do with bloggers, lobbyists, or any of those things".

He said Whale Oil clearly had an agenda. But "he's had no influence on me as Minister of Labour".

Mr Bridges said he had received no correspondence from former Cabinet colleague Judith Collins - a friend of Slater - about the matter.

He said he had met Slater. "If you read his blog, you'll see he hasn't been my greatest fan in the last year or two ... I wouldn't describe him as a good friend."