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Another whitewash

Written By: - Date published: 11:48 pm, December 3rd, 2010 - 37 comments
Categories: corruption - Tags: , , ,

Once again the play is performed. A minister is caught rorting, admits wrong-doing, an investigation is launched, the investigation doesn’t ask crucial questions, it finds no fault just confusion on the part of the poor old minister, the rules are changed. English, Worth, Heatley, Wong… all the same. These farces need a new script.

Bill English was living in his family house in Wellington but getting ministerial services to pay to rent it for his family from his family trust as his ‘out of town’ accommodation. Eventually, English paid back some of what he had stolen. But the report said it was all the fault of the confusing rules (that, somehow, had failed to confuse anyone but National’s smartest minister). Poor old English didn’t get punished. Instead, the rules got changed (and, now, ministerial housing allowances are being rorted more and are costing more than ever).

Richard Worth was promoting his business interests while abroad but apparently it was all innocent confusion, if you believe the official investigation. It wasn’t until John Key learned of something else that Worth got sacked.

Phil Heatley was in tears when he got caught in his abuse of his ministerial credit card for private use. He knew he had done wrong and repaid the money. But, according to the investigation, the rules were confusing.

Now, the Wong report.

Again, we have a minister who has already admitted wrongdoing and lost her job because she couldn’t guarantee her PM that she hadn’t abused her travel perks on more than one occasion. Yet, the report finds “no systematic abuse” of the rorts (as if ‘just once’ is OK).

How does the report manage to avoid any serious finding against Wong?

1) It doesn’t look at the relevant flights. Yup, that’s had to believe, eh? But remember how we’ve been talking about the incredible 10 overseas trips that Wong took during her time as minister, five of them to China where he husband’s business interests are? Well, this report only covers one of those flights – the December 2008 trip where Wong witnessed papers for her husband as a minister.

All the other flights that the report looks at are from before she was a minister and before Sammy Wong had business interests in China.

To be fair, the reason that the report doesn’t look at the flights that matter is because they were paid for by ministerial services and this was a parliamentary service report but surely the terms of reference should have been written more broadly.

It’s hardly bloody surprising that we don’t find the Wongs engaging in business activities in China before they had business interests there. Crucially, though, the one trip to China after those business interests developed that was investigated did result in an abuse of the perk. The other trips need to be investigated too.

2) the report’s author relied on the Wongs’ description of the purpose of travel. In what perverted world do you rely solely on the information provided by the accused to judge their actions?

Phil Goff is calling for an Auditor-General’s report. I don’t have much faith it will be done any better, but I guess it’s all we’ve got.

Update: John Armstrong calls the investigation inadequate and says the A-G needs to investigate. What’s the harm in that Mr Key?

37 comments on “Another whitewash ”

  1. bobo 1

    Seems like the more National get away with this blatant corruption the more bold they get to carry on pushing it to see how much more they can get away with, they must be laughing tonight over glass of John Keys wineries finest red how they blagged their way out of this without even really trying, with the MSM on its side continually playing it down and desensitizing the public to it.I would love to know on New Zealand’s last census how many people listed “Investigative Journalist” as their profession, I bet its right up there with “paste up artist” and “Stuffed Toy Maker”….

    They only scoop the herald gets these days is from Mr fucking Whippy..
    http://www.mrwhippy.co.nz/

  2. part of the problem is having the speaker ultimately responsible for investigating.

    Any speaker is going to have bias towards the government (unless it’s Tapsell) and Lockwood, while good in the House, also has this elitist thing about perks – probably because he’s clocked up so many.

  3. just saying 3

    Just had a quick look at the ombudsman’s site. Not that I have faith in that particular office, just wondering if there was any independent body with repsonsibility. Apparently not. I guess if there actually was such a body it would have long since been ‘captured’ anyway. *sigh*

    Maybe Labour could make better mileage out of the continuing flagrant criminality of this government by proposing an independent mechanism that might actually bring the wrongdoers to account. It would allow an opportunity to remind the public of all the examples you cite, and would fit with the open (transparent?) government (very tired can’t remember what it is called) theme. Ignorance of the law, for the rest of us, is rarely, if ever, considered a valid defence. I’m sure most New Zealanders don’t believe that parliamentarians are genuinely befuddled about what they are allowed to do.

    • bobo 3.1

      Did anyone else catch the threat Lockwood made on tv3 about if Labour pursued the Wong matter “He knew alot of things as speaker” a reference to some dirt on Labour perhaps, let his “unbiased” persona slip there a bit ?

      • Tigger 3.1.1

        What the – if Smith wants to go down that route he won’t like where it ends up.

        As in, once you start crossing the line, Lockwood, all sorts of nasty comes tumbling out of the cupboard.

    • just saying 3.2

      Just to clarify, I was thinking of an independent parliamentary corruption watchdog, not some cosy ministerial appointment working at the beehive, socialising with the staff. Maybe it could oversee all central government and parliamentary functions.

      Something that would have teeth to prevent the likes of CERRA too.

      Labour could make it policy.

  4. freedom 4

    “National MP Pansy Wong and her husband have been told to repay $237.06 each for breaching the rules on Parliament’s international travel perk”

    $237 prompted her to resign, , Yeah Right

  5. Irascible 5

    $237.00 was enough for her to consider triggering a bye-election….. yeah right!!!
    Until John Boy found out and brought in the exterior decorators Pansy was absolutely sure she & Sammy had been caught with more than her fingers in the till. Now she merely chipped the nail varnish!!
    Watch NZ’s reputation as a corruption free government disappear as Key bumbles his way through 2011… he’ll be looking, from Hawaii, for another earthquake and industrial disaster to muddy the waters for him so the public will be distracted from his incompetence and rorting.

  6. Zorr 6

    John Key is trying to say that Goff + Labour are just muckraking.

    Technically isn’t the way to prove this by ordering the A-G report as requested and then attempting to throw it back at Labour if it comes through as clean as it is supposed to be? Or is there something our PM knows that is making him unwilling to order an additional report?

    Honestly, if Key doesn’t sort this out now then it will only continue to stink all the way to the election. And, as we all know, stinks only get bigger with time.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      Heatley had an A-G inquiry , why not Wong?

      Because in Yes Minister fashion You dont call for an inquiry without knowing what the answer is before hand

      • Jim Nald 6.1.1

        John Key is using all means to stage-manage the whole thing.
        He is attempting to deflect by accusing others of muckracking. But it’s clear he is full of shit.
        Very likely there are more worms that might come out, so he will try to contain the scandal.

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 7

    Expect lap dogs like Paul Holmes to swallow it all hook line and sinker

  8. KJT 8

    Key and his banking mates are continuing to steal billions from New Zealand, while we rabbit on about a few thousands.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Expect Key to visit Afghanistan in the next week or so, another journey in his role as Minister for Disaster Tourism.

      But will he ask Pansy and Sammy to go with him ?

  9. ianmac 9

    It took 3 weeks !!! to find out that there was just one occasion of “wrong doing.” And over that time Pansy to not front up. I wonder if the time it took to check was to make sure that there was no evidence that could be uncovered?

    • Bill 9.1

      “…to make sure that there was no evidence that could be uncovered?”

      Or to make sure that evidence was covered?

  10. Treetop 10

    I think that new evidence would be found in emails linking business with holiday travel. Wong needs to be scrutinised as carefully as Field was, before I am convinced that the truth has been told.

    • pollywog 10.1

      Huge McPhailure finds nothing – Wong

      I think that new evidence would be found in business emails emanating from Pansy’s office.

      • Bored 10.1.1

        Huge did not even look foor evidence. Betcha that Pansy did the little innocent girl act, mixed in with the I dont understand the language / culture blank stare and professed she would have been squeaky clean if only somebody had told her..poor little me.

        Reality is that she and hubby are as coniving as bent, just like Field. Key seems to have a problem with setting and imposing ethical standards with his bunch of nobodies. And Pansy bald facedly thinks and expects all to be forgiven.

      • Jim Nald 10.1.2

        “As usual, taxpayers are left feeling shortchanged. They get the grand total of $474.12 by way of the refund McPhail ordered the Wongs to pay for doing business on that one trip. A sum, of course, swallowed up by the fee paid to McPhail for his services.”

        … says Armstrong.

        Well done, Key. Sending it to the Auditor-General who is paid a salary would have got, for taxpayers, more value for money. And also more independence, transparency and rigour.

        By the way, it’s still theft. And taxpayers are not just left *feeling* shortchanged but are still shortchanged – of a larger sum … and of public service values and ethics.

  11. Treetop 11

    Wikileak would have done a better job than the morons who investigated Dr Brash’s email leak. If there is an investigation into emails sent by wong this may also be another whitewash.

  12. ianmac 12

    Stuff has a rundown of business interest that Sammy had in Christchurch. Interesting since his domestic trips were for pleasure not business. Yeah right!
    “The Christchurch property was kept as a base “requiring maintenance and oversight”. Sammy Wong had been travelling to and from Christchurch to maintain the home and section.” Gee. Expensive for taxpayer!
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/4422522/Husband-billed-taxpayer-for-100-000-of-air-travel

    • Treetop 12.1

      I was foolish to embroil wife in hoovercraft deal, says Wong. November 11 2010
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10686807

      “The only reason she was there was because I had to spend so much time there… In hindsight she shouldn’t have been a witness.”

      I think that Mr Preest would have emails linking Mr Wong with private trips to China. Possibly some of these emails could be used in litigation by Mr Preest with Mr Yang and Mr Wong.

  13. BLiP 13

    To use a mantra from those who would take our civil liberties: if there’s nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. And another platitude: justice should not only be done but also be seen to be done. National Ltd™ has done Pansy Wong a disservice by leaving questions unasked, let alone unanswered.

    • Treetop 13.1

      Your first two sentences need to also go on the “Pikes interference could compromise investigation” tag.

      • BLiP 13.1.1

        Yeah, true. I mean, what has management got to hid by seeking to intimidate witnesses with the unnecessary presence of a lawyer during police interviews and how does that effect the perception of justice being done?

  14. Daveski 14

    I took from your title that you were referring to the Field or Peters sagas. I hope the Nats get rid of Wong but if they don’t there can’t be any complaints here of all places.

  15. Bill 15

    What’s with this shit of her playing the race card?

    ‘Hard time in parliament…blah, blah…ethnic minorities…blah, blah…off putting…blah, blah.’

  16. tsmithfield 16

    Quite predictable that the left would classify any findings that don’t match the outcome they would like as a “whitewash”.

    But, if it was a whitewash, was it in the same league as “The Ingram Inquiry”?

    Just wondering.

    • Daveski 16.1

      Obviously TS I agree but the Nats don’t help themselves with their own double standards. I suppose it shows why as a rule the great unwashed outside the beltway detest politicians and political parties.

    • Colonial Viper 16.2

      tsmithfield sounds like you back the findings on Wong. Is that actually the case? Or perhaps you are just taking a potshot because you can and you do think Wong is well Wrong.

      • Craig Glen Eden 16.2.1

        So Wong wanted to resign from Parliament because she woke up that morning and said yup today is a good day to resign because the pay and perks are shit and Im squeaky clean I have done nothing wrong and why not have a by-election in Botany. Ha

        Who needs a report what’s needed is a complaint to the police that’s one thing that was learnt from the Field situation surely? I suspect thats just what’s going to happen Key may avoid a by-election but a whole heap of shit is going to be around him come the next election. He can run but he cant hide.It hasn’t taken long has it 2 years to for this Government to be choking with corruption and theft. Really makes you wonder what Worth got up to.

  17. infused 17

    It doesn’t look at the relevant flights. Yup, that’s had to believe, eh?

    To be fair, the reason that the report doesn’t look at the flights that matter is because they were paid for by ministerial services and this was a parliamentary service report but surely the terms of reference should have been written more broadly.

    This is why I love coming here.

  18. burt 18

    Once again the play is performed. A minister is caught rorting, admits wrong-doing, an investigation is launched, the investigation doesn’t ask crucial questions, it finds no fault just confusion on the part of the poor old minister, the rules are changed.

    And you defended that when Labour did it now you complain about it. There is a name for that – partisan hack.

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