With Pansy Wong in hiding on John Key’s orders, rort-buster Pete Hodgson laid the blame her corruption and all the other rorts squarely on Key yesterday. In question after question, Key couldn’t make a serious defence of his record. Then, he made an extraordinary admission: his ministers will keep on rorting – it’s up to Labour to catch them.
Here are the questions from Pete (video at bottom of post):
4. Hon PETE HODGSON (Labour—Dunedin North) to the Prime Minister: Does he believe clear and unambiguous leadership is now needed to ensure that rules regarding the private interests of Ministers are upheld?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : As Prime Minister I have responsibility for protecting the integrity of the decision-making process of executive Government and maintaining public trust in the executive. I have always expected and demanded that my Ministers act lawfully and behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Was he showing clear and unambiguous leadership when, even before he became Prime Minister, he happened to forget how many Tranz Rail shares he owned?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Was he showing clear and unambiguous leadership when he set up a blind trust to manage his real estate, dairying, and wine interests, which was blind in legal theory but which had 20/20 vision in practice?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is wrong in his accusation.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Was he showing clear and unambiguous leadership when he reinvented a new ministerial housing system, supposedly to save the taxpayer money after the Bill English debacle, only to find that his system costs more because Ministers can, and do, pocket more money without having to show that their expenses are real?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am satisfied that the new system works effectively, is fair, and balances the needs of both taxpayers and Ministers.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Did he show clear and ambiguous leadership when he initially denied wrongdoing by the Hon Dr Richard Worth, the Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English, or the Hon Pansy Wong, only to have to backtrack when the facts emerged?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is incorrect in his statement.
and, then the killer from Trev:
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he stand by his statement on Breakfast this morning in relation to the Hon Pete Hodgson: “If he’d asked a question that was the right one, I’d at least, um, even—even reluctantly give him some credit.”; if so, is he suggesting that if the public want transparency around his Ministers’ misuse of taxpayers’ funds, that depends on the right questions being asked rather than his Ministers’ honesty?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes
Update: No Right Turn points out that National also blocked a Greens notice of motion calling on the Speaker to establish an independent review of MP’s expenses and allowances yesterday. How many other ministers would be out the door if the books were really opened up?