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A-G sure to launch Wong probe

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, December 10th, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: corruption, parliamentary spending - Tags: , , ,

The Auditor-General seems certain to launch an investigation into the Wongs’ taxpayer-funded travel as even more evidence shows the Parliamentary report isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. A majority of Kiwis want her to resign. Why John Key hasn’t already called on the A-G to investigate, as he did with Phil Heatley, is beyond me.

The report that supposedly cleared the Wongs of systematic abuse of the travel perk has been exposed as having two fatal flaws:

1) it only looks at travel undertaken by the Wongs on Pansy’s MP’s travel perk. It ignores the four trips to China they took as ministerial travel. Considering it was a trip as minister that got her in trouble, that seems like a huge oversight. The Parliamentary Service report couldn’t look at spending under the Ministerial Services budget. And the Minister for Ministerial Services is Key, who doesn’t want to investigate.

2) it relies on the Wongs’ word. That word has been seriously thrown into doubt by the information that rortbuster Pete Hodgson is releasing.

The report, based on the Wongs’ word, says that Sammy made a visit to China in 2005 on the taxpayers’ dime to investigate his family history, which (remarkably) would have been within the rules. But Hodgson has shown that Sammy attended the opening of a business owned by his business partner, Jenny Shipley (it would be interesting to know how she paid for her travel, too).

In the very least, the Wongs should have given that information to the investigation so that it could assess whether or not it constituted travel for business, which is outside the rules. But the report makes no mention of this event, which suggests that the author wasn’t aware of it, since he does go to some lengths to explain his reasoning on whether other actions by the Wongs constitute business activities.

The Wongs’ word is further thrown into doubt by the information Hodgson released yesterday that shows, contrary to the claim made in the report, Sammy’s business interests in China were not limited to hovercraft. in 2009 he undertook business activities for Auckland school McLeans College on a trip in which he was part of Key’s trade delegation. Again, if Sammy had other business interests in China, why does the report state otherwise. Did the Wongs mis-inform the author?

A TV3 poll shows 55% of people think Pansy ought to resign from Parliament. I would have to agree. It has become evident that the Wongs withheld information from the inquiry, and that compounds the original offending.

Key now finds himself in a position he will recognise from when he was on the Opposition benches. He is a PM trying to defend the indefensible. He is still claiming that Wong made an innocent mistake (which, for some reason, forced her to resign) when the established facts of the issue have moved on. Not a sustainable position if he wants to maintain any credibility.

His holding pattern for now is to refuse to call for an Auditor-General’s inquiry, while Labour tries to force him into the embarrassing position of doing so. Ultimately, the A-G doesn’t have to wait for anyone to ask her to investigate, and she’s sure to start soon.

12 comments on “A-G sure to launch Wong probe ”

  1. Peter Martin 1

    ‘Why John Key hasn’t already called on the A-G to investigate, as he did with Phil Heatley, is beyond me.’
    Presumably one doesn’t refer such cases such bodies unless there is a reasonably certain degree of confidence as to the outcome. I guess if there is a question hanging over it all it is preferable to organise one’s own enquiry and thus meet the test above…

  2. Carol 2

    <blockquoteThe Wongs’ word is further thrown into doubt by the information Hodgson released yesterday that shows, contrary to the claim made in the report, Sammy’s business interests in China were not limited to hovercraft. in 2009 he undertook business activities for Auckland school McLeans College on a trip in which he was part of Key’s trade delegation. Again, if Sammy had other business interests in China, why does the report state otherwise. Did the Wongs mis-inform the author?

    What counts as a business interest in this context? I saw Wong on TV last night saying that Sammy did represent the school, but that he didn’t make any money out of it.

    • Bright Red 2.1

      I would have thought it’s a business interest if you are acting on behalf od a business, whether or not you get paid.

      Remember, the purpose of the travel perk is for personal holidays and public duties. I don’t see how representing a business can fall into these, so it must be a business activity.

      • burt 2.1.1

        This Labour MP did nothing wrong, the business of govt is what govt decide it to be and the ref just made a bad call – move on. Oh… what… She’s a National MP… Oh well that’s different we need accountability and transparency.

        • Bright Red 2.1.1.1

          … and you want a higher standard than that from Key, eh, Burt?

          Me too.

          • burt 2.1.1.1.1

            I sure do… I just hope if she has broken any laws that we let the courts decide if she is guilty or not rather than have the PM declare that National know the rules better than anyone and we need to move on.

            • Craig Glen Eden 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Some things are employment matters like not disclosing information in and inquiry ordered by the boss.
              This lack of honesty on its own can mean the employer no longer has faith in you and you are advised you can leave or we will have to fire your ass.

              Some times the employee knows they have done wrong and have been caught out and they just resign. Key had his opportunity to accept a resignation he chose not to he has shown his judgment, now it will be up to the AG to make hers and from that we can judge all.

              I suspect MR Key has a lot to loose time will tell but unlike Worth he wont be able to bury this corps.

              • Treetop

                Ignorance is bliss they say.
                When in denial I know nuffing.
                Some oppertunities only come around once e.g. accepting a resignation when the damage is minimal.
                What is it when the employee will drag the boss down?

      • it’s a business interest if you are acting on behalf od a business, whether or not you get paid

        A classification that broad would knobble the Minister for Trade and possibly the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I hope they’re spending a lot of their time furthering the overses interests on NZ business in general, and even specific businesses on occasion, as that’ll generate or sustain jobs and improve the balance of trade.

        The Australian Ministers always seem to be leading joint government / business trade missions hither and yon (with business representatives paying their own way) and I’d like to see NZ doing more of that.

        Which is light years away from what Wong was up to, of course, so please don’t misread me as defending her in any way.

        I have meetings connected with my business every week. I don’t leave each one with a signed contract but I sure as hell wouldn’t be attending unless, in the long run, it was of financial benefit to do so.

  3. Janice 3

    If Pansy does resign she will still be in a postion to access the perk like Shitley. She has been in parliament long enough. Like Shitley, we won’t know when she uses it, and for what then.

  4. randal 4

    anybody who wants to invest in hovercraft needs more than an investigation by the a-g.
    if ya know what I mean?

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