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The Nation runs Nat smear

Written By: - Date published: 11:28 am, July 7th, 2012 - 39 comments
Categories: Gerry Brownlee - Tags: ,

Gerry Brownlee is in court as some property owners challenge his decision to open up some blocks of land for new sections post-earthquake and not others. One of those property owners is Independent Seafoods. They would also have been one of a hundred to have benefited from a 2009 private members’ bill by Clayton Cosgrove. One of Cosgrove’s donors was IS. Brownlee’s shopped a smear based on that, and The Nation ran it.

Cosgrove handled the smear absolutely correctly: he fronted up, he challenged Rachel Smalley to just come out and say that The Nation is implying he corruptly accepted donations in return to legislation (she demurred, and lost credibility), he explained that his Bill wasn’t a favour for IS and IS’s donation wasn’t linked to the Bill, and then he revealed that Brownlee had been shopping this story around the media as a payback to IS for taking Brownlee to court.

This wasn’t Politics 101, this was Politics masters’ level from Cosgrove. He closed down a potential scandal and revealed the motives of those behind it.

Frankly, this is just the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from Brownlee. He is both incompetent and a bully. Whenever someone challenges his incompetence, he tries to bully them but, being incompetent, he fucks that up too.

It was a shame that The Nation decided to be part of it. Their entire allegation, which they didn’t even have the balls to come out and say straight, was that if a donor would have benefited from a policy of a politician that they donated to, then there must be corruption.

A simple moment’s thought shows you that is stupid: unions support Labour and the Greens because they have policies that advance the interests of their members, the Road Transport Forum supports National because it has a massive motorway building programme. The whole point of allowing political donations is so that people can fund the campaigns of politicians whose policies they approve of.

Cosgrove hid nothing, he didn’t cut a policy for donations deal, he declared his donations. And Independent Seafoods thought that he, among a number of politicians, including a number in the National Party, is a  good MP – so they donated to him.

Unless you go to state funding of political parties (and, for what it’s worth, I support that) then, inevitably, the people who donate to politicians are going to be the people who like their policies.

39 comments on “The Nation runs Nat smear”

  1. prism 1

    Having Brownlee as Leader of the House and all the other portfolios and Christchurch Recovery is an example of how little NACTs care about these departments and NZ all together. Just because someone is a loudmouth boofhead and can stir and make questions difficult for the opposition doesn’t serve NZ Inc or the general public. Horses for courses – leave him as the Minister of Sport or something that he is fitted for.

    • mike e 1.1

      This govt is becoming more and more like the mafia or a gang.
      Brownlee is a dirty rotten to the core Gangster.Kick backs from fletcher building to National Stand over tactics to an good employer trying to get back on their feet.
      Brownlee has no place in govt.
      He would be better off at whale watch Kaikoura.They could just throw him overboard during the quiet season to increase visitor numbers.
      Sorry no disrespect to whales or obese people.

    • Steve Withers 1.2

      Gerry Brownlee isn’t ‘fit’ to be Minister of Sport either…..as anyone who has seen the man would know.

  2. prism 2

    Updated version of my comment that I was Closed off from editing.
    Having Brownlee as Leader of the House and all the other portfolios and Christchurch Recovery is an example of how little NACTs care about these departments and NZ all general. And the nastiness probably flows into everything he does, quite uncaring about Christchurch and could be said to have a malicious streak and would start scurrilous rumours about the Labour Opposition.

    Just because someone is a loudmouth boofhead and can stir and make questions difficult for the opposition doesn’t serve NZ Inc or the general public. Horses for courses – leave him as the Minister of Sport or something that he is fitted for.

  3. Dr Terry 3

    I would not wish him off even on Sport (unless he becomes a football that can be kicked hard out of touch). But his Master John Key needs Sport to enjoy a good reputation so that it will serve as a gigantic distraction from all that he is up to.

  4. Matthew 4

    lolz at someone from National trying to claim ‘money for policy’…. pot kettle black …

  5. 1. There is no evidence or indication that Cosgrove promoted a bill in return for donations, and there’s no reason to doubt his word that he was unaware of any connection between the donations and the bill.

    Their entire allegation, which they didn’t even have the balls to come out and say straight

    Clayton Cosgrove: “Well let’s cut to the chase. What TV3 has just accused me of is that I accepted donations in return for proposing legislation that Independent Fisheries would have benefited from if that legislation had gone through. So Rachel my question to you is – is that the accusation that TV3 is making?”
    Rachel Smalley said “We’ve made no accusations at all. ”

    Cosgrove: “your question leads me to believe that you are accusing me of taking money from a company in direct return for legislation.”
    Smalley: “That’s not it at all. I’m trying to establish whether you think that there was a conflict of interest there?”

    Cosgrove: “What this is about, the National Party have got their fingerprints all over this, they’ve been trying to shop this around for weeks. Can I just say this to you. Mr Brownlee a number of coincidences – in the court case he attaches a copy of my bill to his affidavit. Okay it’s not about me or the Airport, your reporter just happens to be in the studio and Mr Brownlee just happens to be overseas ….”
    Smalley: “Front Page has had no contact with Jerry Brownlee.”

    2. There is no evidence or indication that TV3 ran this item in collusion with National or Brownlee.

    Cosgrove: “The reason we’re talking about this now actually, and quite rightly you’re questioning me and that is appropriate, is that I was transparent and open and declared every donation as the law required appropriately.”

    3. Cosgrove accepts that it’s appropriate he is questioned about this.

    So from what I can see it doesn’t look like Cosgrove tried to hide anything and it’s appropriate for media examination of what happened.

    • “There is no evidence or indication that Cosgrove promoted a bill in return for donations, and there’s no reason to doubt his word that he was unaware of any connection between the donations and the bill.”

      Agreed there is “no evidence” of an overt connection between the Bill and the donation … but note, there need have been no agreement between Cosgrove and IF at the time of his promoting the Bill for corruption to have occurred. If IF made the donation out of gratitude for Cosgrove’s action, and Cosgrove knew that this is why they were donating and accepted it any way, that would be a breach of the Crimes Act (it would be analogous to Philip Field’s case).

      However, the problem with these sorts of situations is that unless one or the other party confesses to the relationship (or does something really dumb, like make a written record of the deal), then there never is any evidence … only suspicions. I mean, if Cosgrove and IF really were colluding (which they probably weren’t), how would things look any different to what they do now? So how do we know who are the good guys who take money from those they help, but aren’t being corrupt, and those who are the bad guys who seek to get money from those they help?

      So, in order to make sure MPs aren’t actually being corrupt (because we can’t really tell the corrupt ones from the OK ones), we need to demand MPs avoid situations that give rise to suspicions of corruption. Which means demanding MPs use some wisdom in assessing the appropriateness of accepting donations (especially very, very large donations) from their supporters. And this is where Cosgrove failed … he OUGHT to have been aware of the connection between IF’s donation and his Bill, and if he failed to see it then not only was he politically dumb but he transgresses against the general political ethics needed to give us confidence that New Zealand really has as clean a political culture as we like to think we do.

      • Pete George 5.1.1

        Yes, I can see that. Basically Cosgrove is saying there’s a complete separation from a bill that would benefit a friend and a donation from a friend that will benefit him. He is saying “trust me”.

        Should we just trust every MP like that? If Brownlee had received a sizable donation from Foodstuffs or Ngai Tahu, for example, would Eddie give him the benefit of doubt and accept there was no connection between the airport development issue ansd the donation?

        Cosgrove seems to think his up front on the surface honesty is sufficient to avoid perceptions of possible impropriety. Should that blank cheque of innocence be applied to all MPs unless there is proof of impropriety?

        And here Cosgrove (and Eddie) is saying “trust me, take me on my word, but don’t trust Brownlee who is just trying to smear me”. Who is doing the attempted smearing?

        Effectively Cosgrove seems to expect total trust in his own motives and promotes distrust in Brownlee’s. There doesn’t seem to be evidence for or against either. What would the public make of this?

        • freedom 5.1.1.1

          now, remind me . . . which one has been taken to court ?

          Which Mp has the most need of a distractionary smear campaign ?

          which of these two MPs has regularly and bombastically abused the extraordinary powers at his disposal?

          • Kotahi Tane Huna 5.1.1.1.1

            Noted: that Smalley didn’t have the guts to approach Mike Dormer. Noted, that Dormer’s donation(s) to the National Party have been repaid with Brownlee’s smear tactics. So on the one hand, Dormer has got what he deserves for giving money to low-life scum, and on the other perhaps he will think twice next time.

      • Pete George 5.1.2

        A link to an Andrew Geddis post on this: http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/what-is-necessary-is-never-unwise-is-it

        It concludes:

        I note that Cosgrove is alleging that this story has been “shopped around” by Gerry Brownlee in an effort to distract from a court case being brought by Independent Fisheries against his use of CERA powers to rezone their land. That may well be true. And that case also may well reveal what some of us said from the outset – giving Brownlee or any other Minister extensive powers to override existing property rights and legal processes in order to “help Canterbury” carries considerable risks of their misuse.

        However, the motives for drawing attention to Cosgrove’s relationship with Independent Fisheries do not touch on its basic rightness or wrongness. Or, to put it another way, the problem isn’t so much that people are noticing the donation to Cosgrove, but rather that the donation was given and accepted in the first place.

        “That may well be true.”

        Or not, there has been no evidence of this presented that I’ve seen. But certainly Brownlee’s CERA powers should be under continual scrutiny.

        And Cosgrove acknowledged himself that his promoting of changes that would benefit a friend and his getting of donations from friends – should correctly be scrutinised.

  6. Cosgrove…revealed that Brownlee had been shopping this story around the media as a payback to IS for taking Brownlee to court.

    He didn’t reveal anything, he made accusations.

    Gerry Brownlee is in court as some property owners challenge his decision to open up some blocks of land for new sections post-earthquake and not others.

    There’s quite a bit more to it than that. According to Stuff:

    Brownlee in turf war

    – a bid for a judicial review of the minister’s decision to redraw the boundary limiting the city’s housing development.

    As much as anything, it is about the competing interests of business. Big business. And politics.

    And it’s not along simple political lines.

    The challengers are a group of property developers including:
    – Independent Fisheries (whose donation to Cosgrove was ” one of the highest sums given to any individual MP at the last election”)
    – Australian-owned supermarket giant Progressive Enterprises
    – Clearwater Resort land owners Clearwater Holdings
    – property owners Richard Peebles, Castle Rock Estate, and the Case family.

    On the other side are:
    – Brownlee
    – Christchurch International Airport
    – the Urban Development Strategy (UDS) Partners who originally drew Christchurch’s housing boundary – Environment Canterbury, the NZ Transport Agency, and the Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn councils
    – the developers of Highfield and Prestons – including Ngai Tahu, landowner CDL New Zealand, and supermarket operator Foodstuffs.

  7. freedom 7

    Having watched the replay of The Nation I imagine Ms Smalley is feeling a little bit like a streetwalker having to peddle that story. Perhaps though there is a brighter side and this attack highlights a new approach from Mediaworks to hold MPs to account for their actions. ( yeah i’m trying to keep a straight face writing that last line )

    It would be interesting to see Brownlee (or any Government Mp) sitting through the exact same interview regarding his donations received and the accusations of promises made for favours returned. Oh that’s right TV3 was not accusing anyone of anything, just laying paper towels over muddy grass and calling it a pavement.

    – and why, when a Minister admits that we will lose sovereignty, could they not ask the most important question of Tim Groser and the TPP
    “Have you read or had access to the full TPP agreement?’

  8. Jenny 8

    No wonder people turn off politics. And the non vote is growing.

    None of this does any credit for our political system.

    This sort of attack politics approach helps spread the widely held belief that “all” politicians are self serving and corrupt. A point that Leading conservative talkback radio hosts miss no opportunity to emphasise on a regular basis.

    I remember a comment from one of the posters on this site, writing that all those opposed to the Nats should all do all we can to find dirt on National Government MPs. Even making a call to insiders to leak information to the opposition.

    Unfortunately within a week of this comment a prominent Labour MP was outed for using his parliamentary credit card to rent pornographic DVDs.

    To advocate this sort of attack politics, really signals that you have no positive alternatives to your opponent party’s policies.

    Unfortunately human frailty being what it is, these failings do crop up from time to time, and on either side of the house. To make it mainstay of your campaign to regain the treasury benches will ultimately be self defeating.

    To my mind continually alleging personal failings of this or that politician while necessary in cases of open corruption, is self defeating and reinforces the public perception that all politicians, left or right are corrupt.

    Unfortunately, in my opinion, a large number of the posts on this site fall into this negative “attack politics” category.

    Rather than saying we are better than you because we are better than you. Far better to put up your positive alternative policies and rationally argue the case for them.

  9. Unfortunately, in my opinion, a large number of the posts on this site fall into this negative “attack politics” category.

    That’s how I see it too. Seems to be obsessive negativism and attack by some.

    Far better to put up your positive alternative policies and rationally argue the case for them.

    But they’re not keen on being told this, it’s not uncommon to be attacked for suggesting the obvious like this.

    The problem is they are convinced that governments lose elections, so the main aim is trying to undermine government so it loses faster. But I don’t think it’s that simple. Being seen as a more credible alternative is just as important, but playing the negative game plays against that.

    • felix 9.1

      Any time you want to put up your “positive alternative policies and rationally argue the case for them”, go right ahead.

      Won’t hold my breath though.

      • Jenny 9.1.1

        I could put up what I think could be done and have.

        But it behoves the party that intends to become the leader of our next parliament to do so.

        The tactic of not putting up any positive alternative policies has been called “sleep walking to victory”. Ie counting on the sheer awfulness of this current administration to regain power.

        It probably will work, eventually. But the danger is that without any clear alternative policy direction a returning Labour led administration will continue the same business as usual policies of the previous administration.

        • felix 9.1.1.1

          You don’t see any hypocrisy in Pete supporting your call for less attack politics and more fronting with actual policy ideas, Jenny?

          Cool then.

          • Jenny 9.1.1.1.1

            Even cooler

            I would hope that you too, would support more fronting up with actual alternative policies.

  10. Akldnut 10

    Their entire allegation…………….. was that if a donor would have benefited from a policy of a politician that they donated to, then there must be corruption.

    Ala John Banks – Kim Dot Com, Sky City……….
    I wonder how many of Peter Dunnes donors will end up with large chunks of power company shares?

    • I wonder how many donors Peter Dune has. I’m sure none of them are the Cullen fund, ACC or any Kiwisaver funds. I don’t know who else will get ‘large chunks’. And I expect the allocation of power company shares will be very open and very closely scrutinised.

      Independent Fisheries donated to $3,000 Cosgrove in 2008 and $17,500 in 2011. That leaves him open to question marks regardless of how correctly he acted.

      As Andrew Geddis has been quoted:

      The first question then was whether any illegality was involved – which no one was suggesting to be the case – and the second was whether MPs should “even put themselves in a position where those questions are asked”.

      “Just because he did the legal thing doesn’t mean he did the right thing, in terms of how we expect our MPs to behave. Obviously we expect our MPs to follow the law but that’s the bare minimum.”

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7243101/Cosgrove-upfront-over-mates-donation

      Just expecting everyone to take him at his word without question is naive of Cosgrove.

      • Bizarre. If Cosgrove was acting in a dodgy manner, it seems unbelievable that he would publicly disclose the donations.

        I would’ve thought he’d do a “John Banks” and go down the Anonymous Donations road, followed by sudden amnesia.

  11. Mark 11

    IF: Clayton we need a favour, just a little matter.
    CC: Yeah, no worries, I’ll sort it.
    IF: As long as it doesn’t look fishy?
    CC: No worries, any questions we’ll turn it back on the Nats and run a smear

    later..

    CC; sorted mate, Private Members Bill
    IF: Excellent, if there’s anything we can do???
    CC: Well actually, I’ve lost my luggage a few times and the Insurance people are asking a few questions.. and these bloody hairpieces aren’t cheap.. $17k or so should cover it.
    IF: No worries, done.. you sure this isn’t going to bite us later?
    CC: Definitely not, we’ll be Govt after the election, we know how to close these things down retrospectively.. look at our form mate.
    IF: Well the polls aren’t looking so good for you?
    CC: Means nothing, don’t you read the Standard?

    • Tom Gould 11.1

      @ Mark, or maybe …

      GB: Shit, I’m gonna get screwed in this court case.
      SJ: Get me the Cosgrove file, there has to be something we can cook up. No offence.
      GB: None taken, mate.
      SJ: Check out the donations. Must be something there.
      GB: Only the fish guy, but he gave loads to us too.
      SJ: No worries, Cosgrove will be toast before anyone realises.
      GB: Hmmm, toast.
      SJ: Focus.
      GB: Okay, I’ll get my people on it. The media are sure to get onto it, right?
      SJ: Sure they will, we can make certain.
      GB: Great, now where’s the sausage rolls?

  12. Blue 12

    @Mark Ha! Brilliant.

    • Mark 12.1

      Thanks Blue.. I’m a bit disappointed at the lack of outrage from the Standardistas.. perhaps they do have a sense of humour..
      .. or perhaps it’s a bit close to the bone.

      • McFlock 12.1.1

        interesting conclusion. 
           
        I know my theatrical relatives don’t tend to regard a near-complete lack of audience reaction as a sign of popular acclaim. Maybe they’re just pessimist thespeists.

  13. Kia Ora

    Gerry Brownlee is not a Minister who fits with his brief on Christchurch. The depth and complexity of the problems arrayed against him and their interconnectedness are profoundly alarming. That he is involved in these problems as well as the ones mentioned in my article, tell me that this man should be fit for the sack.

    http://willsheberight.blogspot.co.nz/2012/07/christchurch-struggles-on-while-gerry.html

    Rob

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