Today’s Herald sees Fran O’Sullivan making another valiant effort to dig her hero, John Key, out of the hole he’s in over his non-disclosure of Tranz Rail shares while asking written parliamentary questions in 2002. Unwittingly, her contribution raises more questions.
Fran writes that Key’s written questions to Cullen were based on information which was already in the public arena (thanks to her sterling reports). That might well be true. But Fran worked around Parliament for long enough to know that the replies to MPs’ written questions are the preserve of the inquiring MP until the publication of a regular digest compiling all written questions and answers (known as ‘the greens). An MP can have answers to him or her self for weeks before the appearance of that public digest. Key asked questions which might have been in the public domain. But the answers he received might not have been, and could have given him a commercial advantage.
To not declare share ownership in such a situation represents a basic failure of principle and honesty. Key boasts of rising to rarefied levels in the financial world. In that world, managing – or mis-managing – conflicts and privileged information is something which occurs every day. To claim naivety in these matters is patently ridiculous. And downright disengenuous.
The media’s passivity on this issue is striking. Helen Clark was castigated by the media – and officially investigated by authorities – for supposedly helping ‘mum and dad’ Air NZ shareholders in the way she disclosed information. The media have largely ignored this story in which John Key sought special access to information over a company in which he held a significant shareholding.