If Judith Collins’ difficulties with
endorsing promoting while overseas on a Ministerial Trip the products of a firm of which her husband is a director and which has given significant amounts of money to the National Party was bad enough there is breaking news which will have John Key reach for the emergency phone line to Crosby Textor.
James Dann of the Rebuilding Christchurch blogsite has posted information of what looks like a significant conflict of interest for Amy Adams and questions on how it was handled have to be asked.
From the post:
Adams owns a number of properties, but the ones of most interest are in two blocks. The first is in 9 titles, at Charing Cross. It totals 1,992,440m2, and has a rateable value of $4,700,000. The second is at Darfield, is in one title of 502,154m2, and has a rateable value of $1,050,000. What is interesting about these two blocks is that they are both within the area to be covered by the Central Plains Water (CPW) scheme. This is a controversial project that will take water from the Rakaia River and use it to irrigate an area of the Canterbury Plains between the Rakaia and Hororata Rivers.
Government action in Canterbury over the past few years has caused major concern. Elected representatives to ECAN were dismissed and replaced by Commissioners. Instead of there being recent elections the term of the commissioners was extended to 2016 and Adams had a direct role in this decision as Minister for the Enviroment. The intention appears to be to bed in the irrigation proposals. And part of the fast forward fund, representing some of the sale proceeds of our company shares, has been tagged to be spent on irrigation in Canterbury.
It appears that Adams was directly involved in changing the environmental protection status for the Rakaia River, one of the rivers involved. Again from Dann:
… when the bill went to parliament to replace the ECan council with commissioners, it also made it much easier for the Minister to amend a Water Conservation Order (WCO) in Canterbury. A WCO is often compared to a “national park” for a water way – it recognises the environmental, cultural and recreational significance of the body of water, and makes it more difficult for it to be exploited. WCOs are the domain of the Ministry of the Environment – not the regional council; by tacking this clause onto the bill which was nominally designed to resolve the “dysfunction” at ECan, the government showed what they were really trying to do. A WCO was placed on the Rakaia River in 1988 – the river which CPW needed to draw from to ensure the viability of their scheme. This was lifted in 2013.
Where difficulties may arise is that it appears that Adams’ land will benefit from the proposes irrigation scheme and improve in value. And she is a part owner of AMDON Farms Limited which owns shares in Central Plains Irrigation Limited which is involved in the project.
Rob Salmond sums up the situation as follows:
This raises very serious questions about Amy Adams’ conduct as Minister for the Environment. It is possible, of course, that there is a perfectly innocent expanation for these unlikely coincidences. But before believing that, I think the public needs to know:
- Does Amy Adams stand to benefit, either through increased land value for her farms or from increased share value in her firms, from the government-funded irrigation work in the Canterbury Plains?
- Did Amy Adams recuse herself from all cabinet and caucus discussions that were related to ECan and the Central Plains Water scheme?
- Did Amy Adams delegate authority to another Minister to make all decisions in the environment portfolio that relate to ECan, the current government-appointed commissioners, or the Central Plains Water scheme?
If the answer to (1) is “yes,” and the answer to either of the other questions is anything other than “100% yes,” then Amy Adams has been taking part in government decision-making that directly benefits her and her family.
If she has taken part in those decisions, and stands to benefit from them, then she has to resign.
Update. Amy Adams’ Press Secretary Nathan Beaumont has responded below. Good to see that the Beehive reads the Standard!