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More Nat cronyism

Written By: - Date published: 12:21 pm, July 23rd, 2012 - 11 comments
Categories: corruption - Tags:

Another example of cronyism from disgraced former minister Nick Smith has emerged. He overrode officials at the Ministry for the Environment, who had declined an application for $200,000 for meetings to resolve disputes between farmers and environmentalists in the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley, so a former Nat candidate could pocket the cash.

Here‘s what officials had to say about the project we were being asked to fund:

Environment Ministry emails reveal officials had reservations about the project. Deputy secretary at the time Sue Powell wrote in October: “We remain deeply concerned at the level of professional fees being paid into this process; some of the costs charged also have us concerned.”

Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield also had no truck with the initiative. The agency stumped up $5000 in October but he balked when asked for more cash. In January he wrote to the ministry: “God, these people are annoying. One of the reasons I was willing to underwrite their meeting before Christmas was to get them out of the way.”

He worried the process conflicted with Canterbury’s water management strategy, calling it a “silly and potentially confusing overlap in a small community”.

But Nick Smith insisted that the money be paid out (funny, you would have thought that was one of those ‘operational matters’). $180,000 as paid out:

More than half the cash went to environmental consultants – including about $88,000 to Ecologic, a firm run by Dr Smith’s friend Guy Salmon. Mr Salmon is also linked to the National Party ginger group the BlueGreens….

A series of two-day meetings cost about $25,000 per event and officials worked out Mr Salmon was receiving three-quarters of that – about $18,000 per meeting.

More than that, Salmon was a National Party candidate in 2002. And not a joke at the bottom of the list, either, he only just missed out.

Key, of course, is relaxed:

He added: “I’m sure someone will have a cursory look at it . . . Maybe the minister’s office or my office . . . I don’t see it as a terribly big issue but I’ll reserve the judgment to go and have a look at it.”

But Grant Robertson points out this has a familiar stink about it:

“This project was highly political. For goodness sake, the trust was launched at a conference for the Blue Greens . . . the Government must clarify how the trust came to be funded. At the moment the public are being left with the all too familiar stench of National Party cronyism.”

I reckon Nick Smith can kiss his hopes of coming back to cabinet goodbye.

11 comments on “More Nat cronyism”

  1. Peter 1

    This is utter tripe, and a good example of why someone should check their facts before spinning stories. I’m disappointed that Grant Robertson took to grandstanding before fact-checking, but I’m more disappointed with you effectively discrediting the hard voluntary work of many organisations who have achieved a significant victory for conservation in the Mackenze Country.

    I am proud to have my organisation’s signature on the document, and when this gets released to the public later this month, you’ll be feeling mighty silly for your article above.

    I personally attended every single Mackenzie Forum meeting over a year and half on behalf of my organisation – the Federated Mountain Clubs – and I must say that the price of Guy Salmon and Richard Thompson’s involvement (Richard was chair of the successful Manawatu Forum) would have been cheap at twice the price.

    And if anything, Jacqui Dean put her own money into it, rather than the other way around as you imply.

    By criticising this process you are effectively criticising the hard work of at least 20 organisations, including Forest and Bird, EDS, the Ohau Protection Society, and others, who would be highly unlikely to stand for some sort of tory rort.

    Financial oversight of the process was in the hands of a Trust which had balanced representation of agricultural, commercial, environmental, and community interests, as well as having both Mackenzie and Waitaki District Council mayors on board.

    I request that you remove this article from your site until you’ve had it properly fact-checked.

    Yours sincerely,
    Peter Wilson
    Vice President
    Federated Mountain Clubs

    • David H 1.1

      Oh look a Troll with a fancy title

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        My understanding is that FMC officers are democratically elected and represent over 15,000 paid up members nationwide.

        Given that, its easy to see who has more credibility here, David H (hint: it’s not you).

  2. Peter 2

    Oh, and I should add, the biggest issue here is that the Ministry for the Environment, regional councils, and a few other places, seem to have an inherent dislike of collaborative processes, largely from a patch-protection mentality. That’s where the opposition to this is coming from. The MfE and ECan couldn’t get a solution, or even attempt to get a solution on the Mackenzie, and now two collaboratively developed solutions have been written (one on water, the other on land/development) and they may fear for their relevance.

    • bbfloyd 2.1

      And Now…. For something…. Completely different…………(flam/cymbol crash)…!

  3. bad12 3

    Ah another ‘slushy’, you have to wonder if there is a % kickback going on here, either directly or into the Party campaign coffers,

    Or does the payback rely upon the Party’s ongoing dominance in society where the ‘scratch of the back’ for Nick comes at some point further down the track when Nick is no longer a politician and therefor subject to far less scrutiny,

    This is simply ‘corruption 101′, nothing is written down and no ‘visible’ transfer of capital take place, Arab money launderers do this extremely well, billions of dollars can transit borders through this system which requires a money man on each end willing to ‘put up’ the required amount of cash knowing that at some time in the future the same transaction will occur in the opposite direction…

    • mike e 3.1

      Nick lizard eyes Smith will get a board job at a major bank no worries he’s done his crony jobs E.can, Hatchet job on ACC the philanderer has subjected Sex abuse victims to another round of abuse tanks to his meddling!

  4. lostinsuburbia 4

    I’ve mentioned in other discussions but can it be coincidence that this has come out a couple of days after Auckland Council announced that Salmon was leading its review of alternative transport funding options. Perhaps the Nats are set on devouring themselves again in an attempt to hammer Smith (not that he doesn’t deserve it) and take a swipe at the Council?

  5. tracey 5

    Or further efforts in the fight of joyce vs brown

  6. Ruth 6

    I struggle to understand what the story is here exactly, is Labour just trying to deal to Nick Smith to make sure he doesn’t come back, do they really think Amy Adams is likely to be any better? In my view if as Peter says Guy Salmon was able to facilitate a shared agreement between Feds, conservationists and others to agree to stop destroying such an amazing landscape as the Mackenzie then all power to him.

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