Monday, 25 April 2016

Corruption in the National Party

National – Party 4 Sale?

Frank McSkasy

22 April, 2016


Men in Dark Shadows 2
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Niue

Recent revelations that the National Party may have benefitted from a deal involving a resort hotel in Niue, by receiving a $101,000 donation has been in the headlines since 18 April, when Radio NZ’s political reporter, Benedict Collins, broke the story;
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Call for inquiry into Niue resort contract
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In October 2014, New Zealand’s Scenic Hotel Group announced it had “secured” the Matavai Resort in Niue.
The Niue Tourism Property Trust, whose trustees are appointed by Mr McCully, carried out what the minister said was a fully commercial process to find a company to run the resort.
The month before, Mr Hagaman, Scenic Hotel Group’s founder, had donated $101,000 to the National Party, making him National’s biggest living financial donor in 2014. Only a man who had died and left his estate to National gave more.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully Photo: RNZ
But Mr McCully said there was no link between the contract and the donation.

Radio NZ further reported;
Scenic Hotel managing director Brendan Taylor said Mr Hagaman didn’t know the company was in the running for the Matavai Resort contract.
Earl wasn’t actually even aware that we were negotiating in Niue, because basically that was me and I had it all in-house until such time that we knew we had been awarded the contract.
I did get [Earl’s wife] Lani Hagaman to sign the contract because I wasn’t actually available to do it, but apart from that Earl really had no involvement in Niue whatsoever.
His donation is something he did purely from a personal situation, and basically the hotel company and what Earl does from a personal point of view we kind of keep separate.”

It simply defies credulity that the two events are not somehow connected – especially when, as Radio NZ discovered that “RNZ News could find no record of Mr Hagaman having ever made a large donation to the National Party before“.
It also beggars belief that Scenic Hotel managing director, Brendan Taylor, is asserting that “Earl wasn’t actually even aware that we were negotiating in Niue” when Brendan Taylor got “Lani Hagaman [Earl’s wife] to sign the contract”?!
As the story began to gain traction elsewhere in the msm, National Party president, Peter Goodfellow, said he  “ would be making no further comment about the donation“.

Three days later, on 21 April, our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, attempted to close down the growing scandal;

Mr Key, speaking in China, said today that, while he hasn’t followed the issue closely, he’s not at all concerned.
People make political donations and that’s well and truly disclosed.
But actually Scenic Hotels have been operators for a very long period of time, that’s a management contract from what I can see in Niue – there’s nothing untoward there.”

It is intriguing that even though Key says “he hasn’t followed the issue closely, he’s not at all concerned“.

How can he be “not at all concerned” if “he hasn’t followed the issue closely“?
This is not the first time that National has been revealed to have benefitted from donations made by businessmen  who have been closely involved in commercial activites with this  government.

BMWs

In early 2011, National was roundly criticised for spending millions on thirtyfour new BMW limousines at a time when the country was experiencing recession after the Global Financial Crisis.
At first, Key denied all knowledge of the purchase, claiming he had been “kept in the dark” over the multi-million dollar upgrade;
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Ministers knew of BMW buy-up last year
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But our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key,  did know, as was revealed four days later in late February, 2011;
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pm-signed-papers-relating-to-bmws
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However, the BMW scandal becomes more serious than Key merely ducking responsibility and patently lying when he denied all prior knowledge of the limousine upgrade.
In May 2011, it was revealed that the suppliers of the BMWs had made a $50,000 donation to National prior to the vehicle-purchase. As reported in the NZ Herald at the time;
A private BMW dealer has rubbished the suggestion that a $50,000 donation from his company to the National Party had anything to do with the Government’s new fleet of BMW cars.
[…]
Labour’s internal affairs spokesman, Chris Hipkins, revealed that the BMW dealer’s donation came two days after a July 2010 meeting between Mr Key’s chief-of-staff, Wayne Eagleson, and the Department of Internal Affairs, which approved the BMW upgrade.
It was a month after a function that Mr Key attended at Auckland BMW dealership Team McMillan.

Radio NZ reported;
Prime Minister John Key says he has no responsibility for a $50,000 donation made to the National Party by a BMW dealership the day after the Government renewed its VIP transport contract.
[…]
Bob McMillan, the owner of BMW Team McMillan, says the claim he donated money to National the day after the party agreed to a contract for ministerial cars is ridiculous.

As senior Labour MP, Trevor Mallard said at the time;
They sat down with Ministerial Services and agreed to a renewal of [the BMW] contract, and two days later $50,000 went to the National Party. If that was overseas, we would say it was corruption…”

Mr McMillan’s denial of any link between his donation of $50,000 to National, in return for the contract for the limousine up-grade sounds remarkably similar to Scenic Hotels managing director, Brendan Taylor, denying any link between Earl Hagaman’s  $101,000 donation  to the National Party and his company securing the contract with Matavai Resort.

To compound matters, the BMW dealership at the center of the donations scandal then expressed an interest in acquiring the soon-to-be-replaced government limousines (to re-sell, at a profit);
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dealer-who-gave-nats-50k-eyes-govt-bmws
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Whether or not the purchase went ahead is unclear.

Farms

In 2010 and late 2011, another apparent conflict of interest was reported when Shanghai Pengxin put in a bid for the Crafar dairy farms.  Shanghai Pengxin, under various guises, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the National Party;
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china-link-to-nats-200000
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chinese-cash-flows-to-nats
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A full analysis of the links between Oravida, Crafar Farm purchase, and the National Party was reported in a previous blogpost here; Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua).

Conclusion

Whilst details are hard to confirm by the very nature of these highly secretive deals – many made informally – the questions arising from these (and other) murky ‘arrangements’ is sufficient to underscore a recent downgrading of our Transparency International Corruption Perception Index;
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corruption free - NZ drops again - transparency international
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We have had sufficient number of glimpses into dubious activities that hint at corrupt practices. Even fourth place on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index may be wildly optimistic.
As the Saudi farm-bribe and use of GCSB to spy on behalf of Tim Groser has shown, National is not averse to employing dodgy practices and dirty deals to enrich itself or what it perceives may “benefit” the country (and consequently it’s re-election chances).
There are simply too many coincidences to ignore the inescapable conclusion: it is my considered opinion that National has benefitted financially from several commercial/government transactions.
Our political system has been tainted with corruption..
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Addendum1
As at 21  April, the so-called “Taxpayers Union” – a self-appointed group of “watchdogs” to protect public interest from political corruption and waste of taxpayers’ money, had made no comment on the Niue Scandal;
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taxpayers union home page
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The “Taxpayers Union” had condemned the Universal Basic Income; had a ‘go’ at Maori Iwi; lambasted Labour; criticised MoBIE; and several other attacks on perceived “wrong-doing”.
But not a peep on the Niue scandal.
But considering that the “Taxpayers Union” is made up of National Party apparatchiks and supporters, that is hardly surprising.
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References

Transparency International (NZ): Corruption Free? NZ drops again
Additional
Previous related blogposts
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guy body editorial cartoon april 11 2016 panama papers tax haven


1 comment:

  1. Well done, excellent research showing clearly what most of us suspect.

    ReplyDelete