I missed this last week: Key is now conceding that he doesn’t have legal authority to give away shares for free in a looters’ bonus. In June, Key and English arrogantly dismissed questions from Russel Norman on the legal authority to give away hundreds of millions of dollars worth of shares to the looters. Last week, Key sheepishly admitted that Norman is right.
Here’s what Key said on June 20th:
Dr Russel Norman: When will he be seeking legal authority from Parliament to spend money in the form of a share give-away?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If the member wants to go to the Budget, he will see quite clearly laid out the Government’s programme, the anticipated return that the Crown will get, and the costs likely to be associated. That gives the Government, from everything that I can see, the authority.
Then, Bill English answered a written question on June 27th:
Dr Russel Norman to the Minister of Finance(27 Jun 2012): Has his office received advice on the legislative authority to gift Crown-owned shares in mixed ownership model companies to other shareholders in those companies as part of a shareholder loyalty scheme; if so, on what dates?Hon Bill English (Minister of Finance) replied: On 20 June 2012 the member asked Oral Question Number 1 to the Prime Minister regarding what the member described as “a so-called ‘bonus scheme’ for people who buy shares” as part of the Government share offers. Later that day my office received advice confirming that many of the assertions in the member’s questions to the Prime Minister, and in the member’s press release of the same day, were incorrect.
Here’s what happened on July 24th:
Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement in relation to the share give-away as part of his asset sales programme that “If the member wants to go to the Budget, he will see quite clearly laid out the Government’s programme, the anticipated return that the Crown will get, and the costs likely to be associated”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : The words before the quote are “the members”, but I stand by my statement, which I made on 20 June. The Budget does set out the returns and costs from the mixed-ownership programme. Ministers have since made the decision in principle to offer a loyalty bonus. We are taking advice on how to treat this in the Government’s books—for example, whether we need to make a separate appropriation for it.
Dr Russel Norman: So is the Prime Minister confirming that in his answer to that question, when he referred to the costs likely to be associated with the asset sale programme, he was not accounting for the cost of the share give-away?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, I would reject the term “give-away”. In terms of the loyalty bonus, Treasury is working out exactly where that might be accounted. Overall, what it has said is that, for the total costs, the best estimates are about 2 percent of the proceeds, but that includes a lot of other factors. It will come back to us with advice on how it should be appropriated.
So….. Norman was right – National has not got Parliamentary authority to give away these shares. The looters’ bonus would be illegal without a new law and Norman made chumps of both Key English.