Fresh evidence was presented in the House yesterday by rortbuster Pete Hodgson that makes a lie of testimony Sammy Wong gave to the investigation into his and his wife’s travel on taxpayer money. A proper inquiry by the Auditor-General must now be undertaken. There are also questions over John Key’s involvement.
You’ll remember that the Parliamentary Service investigated disgraced former Minister Pansy Wong and her husband Sammy’s use of her MP travel perk after Hodgson revealed that she and he had conducted private business while using that perk, which is against the rules. The investigation looked into trips that the Wong’s had taken on that perk. Based on the Wongs’ description of the purpose of each trip, it concluded that there was no “systematic abuse” of the perk.
One of the trips, according to Sammy, was to investigate his family genealogy. Hodgson today tabled evidence that, in reality, Sammy met with his business partner, former National PM Jenny Shipley and “he helped former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley launch a $40 million investment into a biotechnology centre, in which Mrs Shipley has shares”.
This, I think means two things: 1) the Wongs used the travel perk for business on more than one occasion, which is suggestive of “systematic abuse” rather than accidental or incidental abuse 2) the Wongs misled the Parliamentary Service investigation, which, frankly, should never have relied on the mere word of those being investigated in the first place.
When the Parliamentary Service report came out, John Armstrong and others condemned it as a whitewash. This new information makes it a sham.
Clearly, these matters need re-investigation by a competent body, which is obviously the Auditor-General. And let us not forget that Pansy also took four trips as minister to China that have not been investigated at all yet. These, too, should now be subject to the A-G’s inquiry.
Now we come to the issue of John Key’s involvement in all this. Here’s how it played out in the House:
Hon Pete Hodgson: When did he first become aware of the link between Pansy and Sammy Wong and Lianyungang Supreme Hovercraft Ltd?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: When I first met Pansy Wong she introduced Sammy as her husband, so I was aware of the link then. In terms of the question the member asked, I have no recollection of that date.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Does he recall having dinner with Sammy Wong in New Zealand on 19 September 2008 and receiving a progress report on Liangyungang Supreme Hovercraft Ltd at that time?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No…
… Hon Pete Hodgson: I have a number of documents to table. I will try to group them. The first document I seek leave to table is off the Lianyungang Supreme Hovercraft website, which is no longer existent. It is both in English and in Mandarin, and it refers to the dinner between Sammy Wong and the Prime Minister on 19 September 2008.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sort to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
The look on John Key’s face when Hodgson tabled those papers ( about 2.55 in the vid) is what Audrey Young famously called his ‘Tranzrail eyes’. He looked caught out and uncertain of what more was to come.
I can’t speculate on what this all means. Although I’m confused as hell as to why the Leader of the National Party was getting updates on a Chinese hovercraft business.
And we’re not getting any answers out Key and Wong. After Question Time, Key walked through the waiting media “refusing to stop or acknowledge media queries” while Wong snuck out the back way. This unwillingness to front up can only deepen concerns.