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Key implicated not vindicated

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, February 21st, 2013 - 21 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, john key, national - Tags: , , ,

Before the Auditor General’s report on Sky City was even released, Key was trying to spin it as a “vindication” of his involvement. (The Greens are calling for Key to be censured for this breach of confidentiality.) Key was trying to get his spin in early because, of course, the report is not a “vindication” at all. John Armstrong (of all people) called Key out in no uncertain terms:

Sky City report ‘deeply disturbing’

Verging on banana republic kind of stuff without the bananas – that is the only conclusion to draw from the deeply disturbing report into the shonkiness surrounding the Government’s selection of SkyCity as the preferred builder and operator of a national convention centre.

Ouch.

The Prime Minister’s attempt to downplay Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith’s findings in advance of their release yesterday by saying he had not lost any sleep from reading draft copies may turn out to be a costly political miscalculation.

John Key may have escaped personal blame for the serious flaws in the old Ministry of Economic Development’s handling of the convention centre project but the report is far worse than he had been leading people to believe.

He is taking refuge in the report’s assurances that no evidence could be found to suggest “inappropriate considerations”, such as connections between political and business leaders, were behind the final decision for the Government to negotiate with SkyCity as the preferred bidder. In other words, no corruption. Or at least none that could be found.

An interesting distinction for Armstrong to make.

Smith’s report, however, does not mince words when it comes to slamming the whole selection process from the seeking of expressions of interest to their evaluation as being neither transparent nor even-handed, with four other interested parties seeking the nod to build the convention centre being kept in the dark for months while the Government got cosy with SkyCity. Things got so bad that some officials expressed concern to superiors that proper procedures were not being followed. …

Key may not be losing much sleep. But this report is no comforting, soft bed of hay. It is a bed of nails.

And now today The Herald points out that Key’s Tourism Ministry ignored Treasury advice on how to proceed:

Treasury’s SkyCity advice ignored

Officials in one of Prime Minister John Key’s departments disregarded Treasury advice to seek guidance in how to conduct SkyCity talks with honesty and integrity.

… the Tourism Ministry, for which Mr Key has responsibility, was told by Treasury in November 2009 to seek advice from the Auditor-General “to determine the probity” of its discussions with the casino company. “We have no record of any contact with ministry officials on this topic at this time,” Deputy Auditor-General Phillipa Smith said in her report.

Why would Key’s Ministry be keen to ignore advice on how to proceed with “honesty and integrity”?

The process was so obviously flawed and unfair that (from the same article) one of the competing bidders in the process is talking about seeking a refund of its costs “wasted on a bid that was never seriously considered”. I wouldn’t be surprised if all competing bidders were not making such claims soon. Why wouldn’t they?

It looks like the Sky City fiasco is far from over for Key. As David Shearer put it “He was not vindicated, he was implicated”…

21 comments on “Key implicated not vindicated”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    This is nothing short of corruption. Arguably the worst seen in this country.

    Has a Prime Minister of this great country ever been more in bed with big business than this crook is? When he gets rolled and doesn’t have the power of government backing him, he should be investigated.

    This is terrible.

    • Afewknowthetruth 1.1

      Key will eventually be awarded a position as an ambassador or a position in the UN, or perhaps the World Bank, as reward for services rendered to the global elites who are running the show. A knighthood is not out of the question.

      It’s always been corrupt; it’s just that the elites can be more brazen in their looting, now that they have dumbed-down the general populace and reduced the bulk of the media to for-profit propaganda machines.

      • tracey 1.1.1

        he will NOT go to the UN (it is at its base humanitarian) – I can see him at the World Bank however.

        ” he had not lost any sleep”

        I believe him. Money is the ruler of his life and his ethics. IF money is saved it must be good appears to be his motto. However citizens are not shareholders.

        here is a so-called leader who takes NO responsibility for those he leads. He is happy for those below him to carry the can for what are in all likelihood his instructions. That is cowardly.I

        • muzza 1.1.1.1

          The UN is not humanitarian, thats only what people want to believe it to be!

          Key – its not about the money, not for those he answers to anyway!

    • Stever 1.2

      Our very own Berlusconi!

  2. DH 2

    This business is wrong on so many levels. SkyCity occupy a very privileged position. They have a state sanctioned monopoly that not only guarantees their revenue but also permits them to maximise their profits through absense of competition. (The house odds wouldn’t be so favourable if there was two casinos competing against each other for business)

    They’ve been abusing that position for years with their lobbying and court cases against the Govt. Any responsible Govt should be putting SkyCity in their place yet here this mob are sanctioning not only expanding their monopoly but granting them another!

    Audit office may not have found any evidence of corruption but the behaviour of this Govt towards SkyCity sure makes me think they needed to look harder.

    • One Tāne Huna 2.1

      “look harder”

      Do you think they wrote it down, or allowed meetings to be recorded?

      “I’ve seen the proud statement of a former Attorney General who protected his boss and now brags on the fact that he tiptoed through a minefield and came out ‘clean’. I can’t imagine somebody like
      Thomas Jefferson tiptoeing though a minefield on the technicalities of the law and then bragging
      about being clean afterwards.”

      Jimmy Carter 5-4-74

      How “clean” is Johnny Key?

      • DH 2.1.1

        Yeah that’s the problem isn’t it, the chances of there being phsyical evidence are very slim. It is possible to build a case on the law of probabilities though and I think the AO could have done more there.

        Take these concessions SkyCity demanded. The AO never considered that the other parties to the tender would also have built a ‘free’ Convention Centre if they’d been offered the opportunity to demand concessions. Infratil were one of the parties and they’d have a huge shopping list of legislative changes that they’d trade for building a Convention Centre. No-one has even thought of that angle yet and it does look a bit like Key offered SkyCity an exclusive deal that he never intended offering anyone else.

        • One Tāne Huna 2.1.1.1

          The appropriate authority to deal with National Party funding, and its relationships with its clients, is the Serious Fraud Office.

          We’re way beyond the mere perception of a conflict of interest here.

          • Murray Olsen 2.1.1.1.1

            Given that we probably only ever see the tip of the iceberg and the way Key protected Banks, I can’t argue with that.

  3. freedom 3

    Why would Key’s Ministry be keen to ignore advice on how to proceed with “honesty and integrity”?
    because Parata had the cabinet’s only dictionary, she was still trying to find out what ‘assurance’ meant.

    • tracey 3.1

      because honesty, integrity and transparency aren’t what made J P Morgan “great” (I use that term advisedly) and that is where he learned his stock and trade. Finally some might begin to see what you get when you assume someone from the Gordon Gheko world is the right person to lead a nation and lay a future for its children.

      If I were shearer I would start calling Key Gordon Gheko… Key’s electorate know exactly who that is

  4. ropata 4

    WHY do they have to stick their freakin convo centre in the middle of the most congested street in New Zealand? I spent 40 minutes on Hobson St last week trying to get past 4 sets of traffic lights to get home. Surely there’s loads more space down by the airport.. oh and there’s already a bloody convention centre out there!

    Gambling probably causes 100 times more damage to our society than a marginal habit like smoking. The media parrot all the anti smoking government PR, but never question the proven family and wealth destruction caused by gambling. It should be equally marginalised and penalised.

    (Repost of my comment from Tumeke)

  5. tracey 5

    Theres no credible evidence auckland needs one or can make it pay its way. Aotea never paid its way

  6. TightyRighty 6

    All else aside, I hope you muppets finally realise that the media is not a stooly of the right. It does Actually call it as it unfolds. So all that criticism of it might be unfounded? It may not sing the time you want, but at least it hasn’t copied it.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      So all that criticism of it might be unfounded?

      Nope, all the criticism is still spot on. The MSM really is bad at it’s job of holding the government and private corporations to account. This is probably because they are a private corporation that collectively believes in the delusional economic paradigm put forth by the politicians and economists.

    • ropata 6.2

      TR. *some* media now are slowly waking up that key and his pals are a pack of lying crooks.
      But their rapturous ejaculations of keyster worship in 2008-2009 were disgusting to behold

  7. mike e 7

    Tighty almighty poorly constructed sentences and argument!
    Ru saying the tide has turned and shonkey is dog tucker!
    Compulsive Insider trader caught out again!

  8. aerobubble 8

    Yeah, what gives. Every other bidder believed the Government was going to put money up, because they made offers that require govt funding.

    And Skycity hopes nobody would notice the placards outside of anti-pokies machines protesters demand a say since it was their hard work that contributed to the pull down of pokie machines numbers and the government immoral use of pokies to sweaten the deal.

    What good is having a conference center that many conference goers would not wish to be associated with, isn’t it bad enough having conferences in a gambling den, now they will
    be consenting to actively increasing gambling and undermining the efforts of anti-gambling
    forces. Imagine working hard to keep a reserve safe, then National rush in and say, okay
    we can build a housing estate here, thanks for keeping the developers off.

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