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Chief Press Sec O’Sullivan leaves Key questions open

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, July 9th, 2008 - 44 comments
Categories: john key, Media - Tags:

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.

44 comments on “Chief Press Sec O’Sullivan leaves Key questions open ”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Another one for the list of things I do not care about.

  2. Blar 2

    Nice conspiracy theory but it just doesn’t stack up.

    Ask yourself this question. Would a man worth tens of millions of dollars and with an ambition to become Prime Minister risk all of that on $30000 in shares?

    It’s amazing how Labour’s campaign is increasingly looking like John Howard’s losing campaign (minus Joe Donald).

  3. Um Blar – it’s probably more that he didn’t see it as a risk or realise it was inappropriate until advised by his minders. It’s one of those “no moral compass” things that you righties are so good at.

    HS – and yet you felt the need to be the first to comment.

  4. Blar 4

    Sod, chances are the question was just funneled through him by an interested researcher. Pretty standard fare.

  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    So parliamentary questions for the Notionals are fed to them by outside interested parties Blar? Tell us more mate.

  6. Your making a lot of “nothing to see here” excuses lately bro. Are you on the Nat’s payroll?

  7. slightlyrighty 7

    If Key was the spokesperson for the Nats on this issue, and the information was in the public arena, then as an elected representative Key is perfectly justified in commenting on these issues and raising questions to the government on the matter.

    There are reports that Key, in selling his extremely small shareholding in Tranzrail actually caused his family trust to lose $50000. It could be argued that Key decided that his involvement in these issues was such that he could no longer hold these shares and he divested himself of these shares so he could ask the more searching questions that Helen Clark raised dubious concerns over.

    In any case, this is a bit rich coming from Helen Clark, who as I recall, has made comments in the media that has directly adversely affected the share price of Air New Zealand and Telecom, causing investors to lose 100’s of milions of dollars.

    Lets also not forget the actions of Jeanette Fitzsimons who conducts a greta deal of parliamentary business while “forgetting” to mention her shareholding in the listed NZ windfarm owner , manufacturer and developer, Windflow Technologies.

    And what about the various public statement on the Auckland International Airport by the government and it’s foreign minister, Winston Peters. How many NZ’er lost money because of that?

  8. Blar 8

    So parliamentary questions for the Notionals are fed to them by outside interested parties Blar? Tell us more mate.

    Er, I said an interested researcher you tard. As in, a person employed to work in the National research unit.

  9. higherstandard 9


    It’s not uncommon practice in parliament for interested parties to get a friendly (or unfriendly) politician to ask questions in the house as per Winnie below.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is Risperdal Consta, an antipsychotic injectable used by professionals on a fortnightly basis and paid for by taxpayers in the OECD and Australia, not available in New Zealand where the comparison is the hand out of tablets, which are frequently not used by those patients, leading to wide-scale problems in our society; and why does she not make that drug available in New Zealand?

    I’ve even forwarded issues I’ve had to MPs from both sides and had questions(oral and written) submitted in the house by MPs – parliament does actually work well on occasion – which is encouraging.

  10. Oliver 10

    What about a government that protects is leader by legislating an important constitutional case out of the courts. When Muldoon was taken to court under the Bill of Rights 1688 he respected the courts decision. When Helen faced a legal threat from the case of Darnton v Clark she had parliament legislate the case out of existence. That constitutes a most egregious abuse of power to protect her privileged position.

  11. Pascal's bookie 11

    Oh right, so he’s just an empty suit then.

  12. Blar 12

    PS: Sod, I thought one of the house rules here was we don’t talk about each other’s employers (can one of the Standardistas confirm this is a rule?).

    But anyway, I am not employed by the National party.

    [Tane: Blar, you are correct. Sod, stop it.]

  13. Lew 13

    Oliver: Hey there, you’re running that line again (nice to see you’ve dropped the tiddlywinks bit), but I see you’ve not rebutted any of my points in this comment – until you do so, don’t you think it’s a bit weak to continue making the same statements without any additional argument or evidence?


  14. slightlyrighty 14

    Winston raising questions on anti psychotics? Talk about a conflict of interest! 😉

  15. Blar – that’s not entirely honest now is it?

    But… I’m gonna get banned if I take this any further so I guess I’ll drop it. Feel free to email me again some time if you want to discuss this. Sorry Tane.

    [lprent: You are soooo right. Good thing that Tane dealt with it before I did.]

  16. higherstandard 16


    Indeed – also his ladyfriend at the time was I believe running the company who made the product – regardless was it a reasonable question to ask in parliament – absolutely.

  17. Blar 17

    Sod, lobbing a broadside like that isn’t exactly ending it. I’m not and never have been employed by the National party. I’ve also never been paid, employed or instructed to comment on the Standard.

    You really are the Cameron Slater of the left.

  18. Oh no – I prefer to think of myself as the steady eddie of the left 😉 Cam’s way too dumb.

  19. Billy 19

    10:31 on the 9th of July 2008. The first recorded instance of ‘sod apologising. For anything. Wonder what that’s about.

  20. I’ve apologised at last twice before. Once on our blog, bro. Maybe I’m mellowing!

  21. Billy 21

    That’s right, Robynsod. You apologised to Kevyn. Although, I was happy to note, not for taking the piss out of the spelling of his name.

    I have noticed a tendency on your part to assume that no-one is right wing of their own volition. You seem to assume that people are only pretending to be right wing because someone is paying them. Maybe, like me, Blar is right wing because of an honest conviction. Surely, that’s possible.

  22. rave 22

    Key’s share holdings are only symptomatic. The disease is being a parasite and/or scavenger who lives off the labour of others. Such parasites and scavengers feel they have the moral high ground to stand on a pile of corpses and trumpet their hypocritical moral spiel.

  23. Blar 23

    “I’ve apologised at last twice before.”

    Slip sliding away.

    Anyway Sod, did you just admit to being an obsessive stalker freak?

  24. Maybe, like me, Blar is right wing because of an honest conviction. Surely, that’s possible.

    I actually think most people are right wing out of self interest. I quite like your PRW argument but would add that a PRW is just a leftie in need of better education. If we ever catch up for a beer I’ll tell you about Blar. Suffice to say he is certainly RW from conviction but he also has a vested interest. Anyway. Enough said. I’m not a great fan of this “outing” business…

  25. Anyway Sod, did you just admit to being an obsessive stalker freak?

    Are you calling my mate ed an obsessive stalker freak?

  26. Tane 26

    Guys, this is really tiring. If you want to have a personal squabble can you take it to Sodblog?

  27. Yeah – fair enough. C’mon Blar – we can carry this on over there…

  28. Damn! I’m in moderation on my own blog, I’ve lost my password and my email is down! I guess we can’t carry this on over there…

  29. slightlyrighty 29

    July 9, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Key’s share holdings are only symptomatic. The disease is being a parasite and/or scavenger who lives off the labour of others. Such parasites and scavengers feel they have the moral high ground to stand on a pile of corpses and trumpet their hypocritical moral spiel.

    Really Rave? So what of the Government being major shareholders in Air NZ? Kiwirail? Kiwibank?

    What of Jeanette Fitzsimons and Windflow technologies?

    Is this behavior parasitical?

    Where do you think the money for industry comes from?

  30. MacDoctor 30

    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.

    This will be because there is no story. Key sold his shares at a significant loss. This means that you are saying that Key is not only dishonest, he is also a complete financial moron. Seeing as his current net worth is probably well in excess of the combined net worth of everyone on this blog, I think that is just so much horse manure. The timing of his share sale indicates that, as soon as he saw he was going to have to make substantive remarks, he sold the shares that may cause a conflict of interest. That, more than anything so far, tells me that he is an honest man. I guess he should thank Clark for showing us how honest he is by her poorly grounded accusations.

  31. Draco TB 31

    What of Jeanette Fitzsimons and Windflow technologies?

    Is this behavior parasitical?

    Depends – does she do any of the actual work ie, does she produce any of the value of the company?

    Where do you think the money for industry comes from?

    Considering that banks pretty much print money at will – out of thin air. But the real question is: Why do the investors require ownership of the business?

  32. T-rex 32

    What does Jeanette Fitzsimons do for Windflow? Supply them with the stone tools they use to make their gearboxes?

    Draco – your second and third sentences are ludicrous. I’m just saying that so none of the fighty-righties try to infer I agree with you.

  33. Oliver 33


    I only just read that post you’ve referred to me, the nature of my employment means that I keep very funny hours.

    1). Yes the EFA already gets craploads of negative coverage but it deserves more. It is the single most undemorcratic thing done by a New Zealand goverment since a least the end of the Second World War. It’s probably the most undemocratic thing done by a New Zealand government since 1900 but I don’t know ennough to say that for certain.

    2) Okay Darnton v Clark was superseded by due process of laww but that doesn’t make it right. It is still a horrific abuse of power to protect Clark’s privieged position. In New Zealand when we talk about abusive power hungry unscrupulous politicos we always use Muldoon as the yard stick and even he was above legislating over a lawsuit under the Bill of Rights 1688.

    3) Personally I don’t believe the use of Crosby Textor is anti-democratic. Paying someone externally to help with branding is little diferent than hiring staffers to so it for you. It’s just out-sourcing a service that some people don’t out-source. But anyone that does think Crosby Textor is anti-democratic can hardly defend Labour record on protecting democracy. To even attempt to do so is rank hypocracy. Any honest commentator would have to admit that if they consider Crosby Textor anti-democratic they consider the insidious effects of the EFA and the brazen abuse of power in legislating against Darnton v Clark to be much more significant anti-democratic acts.

  34. Ari 34

    1- Actually, there are lots of things I can name that I feel are much more anti-democratic. Best example is the new immigration bill, as it grants new powers to deny people entry to this country that are checked by neither due process nor independent review. The EFA is checked by both.

    2- I don’t personally like the retroactive legislation in that sense, but then again, I also don’t like the fact that we can’t retroactively force National to disclose its large, anonymous donations from trusts in previous elections. I’d honestly like to see electoral law formulated outside of Parliament so that it’s more even-handed in its treatment of ALL parties.

    3- Nobody is objecting to the fact that C/T are paid consultants- the objection is to how they’re advising National. People are objecting to the fact that they have previously run campaign strategies that are full of racist and sexist dogwhistling, spin the news, and stifle democratic debate- and National is three for four on those during this election cycle. (I’m sure John Key has some racist dogwhistling lined up in case this issue blows over, though)

    National has a right to hire even Hitler’s undead corpse as a consultant, and as long as they have no evidence of fascism or antisemitism (or eating brains) in their policies, it ought to be completely irrelevent to the news. But that’s simply not the case here- National are running a classic C/T campaign, and regardless of whether it’s on their advice or not, it’s a really bad thing, and the association with people who could advise them on how to do this kind of campaign makes it even more suspicious, especially as no party has previously had their campaign strategy fully managed by outside contractors- if the leak leads to the conclusions we’re worried about, National has crossed the rubicon for the first time when it comes to external campaign advice in New Zealand.

  35. expat 35

    God almighty – when will the CT bollocks end here?

    The only CT that needs to be discussed here is a CT scan for you conspiracy freaks.

    [lprent: Good to have your vote on continuing to look at C/T. We always value your opinion.]

  36. Lew 36

    Oliver: The main problem is that you keep making these assertions without any actual supporting arguments. In the case of 1. they’re probably not necessary, since it’s essentially a matter of partisan politics. In the case of 2. what you’re essentially saying is that the Speaker and the Governor-General conspired with Clark to prevent the exercise of democracy. It strains credibility. However this is also somewhat irrelevant to my point. However in the case of 3. you’re still arguing a non sequitur:

    “But anyone that does think Crosby Textor is anti-democratic can hardly defend Labour record on protecting democracy.”

    Actually, they can, because it’s perfectly reasonable and entirely justifiable to believe both that C/T are anti-democratic and that Labour are not anti-democratic. There is no logical inconsistency between these two positions because the actions undertaken by C/T and by Labour are qualitatively different. You can argue one is anti-democratic while the other isn’t, and that would be a justifiable argument. But the point remains that you have to argue it before you can expect people to take it seriously.

    I mentioned this in the perhaps vain hope that you won’t be one of those righties who flies in, makes a lot of squawking noises, craps on everything and leaves, and might possibly actually contribute to the discussion using something other than bald unsubstantiated statements and catchphrases.


  37. Draco TB 37

    Draco – your second and third sentences are ludicrous.

    In what way are they ludicrous?
    The second sentence refers to Fractional Reserve Banking and the third sentence happens to be a question.

  38. Lew 38

    Draco TB: I don’t presume to answer for T-rex, but I’ll have a stab on it myself:

    TR: “Where do you think the money for industry comes from?”

    DTB: “Considering that banks pretty much print money at will – out of thin air.”

    Equivocation. There are two meanings of money in play here – money in the sense of value, and money in the sense of physical paper stuff. T-rex clearly meant the first kind. You imply that by printing the second kind, a bank can create the second kind. Ask Robert Mugabe how that’s working out.

    DTB: “But the real question is: Why do the investors require ownership of the business?”

    The very definition of investment in a capitalist system is ownership. Without it there’s no such thing. If you’d like to argue that capitalist bankers should want to not own the banks in which they invest, have at it.

    Honestly, DTB, you didn’t seem to be economically illiterate before. Why now?


  39. Draco TB 39

    Ask Robert Mugabe how that?s working out.

    Yes, I’m implying that there’s a parallel. There’s a difference in the fact that a large amount of the money introduced by the fractional reserve system is removed from the economy and the stuff the Mugabe is printing isn’t. Both, though, result in inflation as the amount of paper money increases at a greater amount than the value in the economy.

    Without it there?s no such thing.

    So, in your view, no reason at all then?

    Take a company, it has a CEO, board of directors etc. This company doesn’t have any shareholders though. The CEO etc are still running the business for a profit but they’re now responsible to the workers. The only thing that’s really changed from the capitalist model is that the workers will now be responsible for the direction of the company and not the shareholders. This is interesting in that it seems to empower the workers so that they are fully responsible for their lives rather than being only responsible to do what their told which leads to disengagement and disillusionment.

    Why now?

    Questioning, Lew, Questioning. Can’t change anything if you don’t question.

    defense beats

  40. Lew 40

    Draco: See what you did was simply change the entire paradigm in which you were operating, without informing the rest of us. If you could at least say WARNING – hard left turn ahead or something, then perhaps people might not be so bemused.

    When you talk about a corporation in which there are no shareholders, a question remains unanswered: where does the capital come from? If it’s from the workers, then all you describe is a system where the workers happen to be the shareholders. In any meaningful sense of the word they are investors who own the corporation, which you said there needn’t be.


  41. Draco TB 41

    where does the capital come from?

    The business raises capital two ways:
    1.) The old fashioned way, the business sells bonds.
    2.) It gets a commercial loan
    3.) Any combination of the above.

    Ownership isn’t needed but to clarify the idea the business would be self owned. Corporations etc are a legal construct and this would be no different except that it would disallow the selling of shares and it would define that the workers, of which the CEO and board of directors (If the business has them) are included, as the responsible for the businesses direction.

    WARNING – hard left turn ahead

    Lew, I happen to be hard left (I could quite happily shake hands with Marx) but I also happen to be liberal to the extent of making ACT look like a bunch of dictators. As such I fully support the goals of socialism and the free-market. I do not see the two as being mutually exclusive (as our brothers and sisters on the right seem to do) but mutually supportive.

  42. Draco TB 42

    More of Fran’s National spin in which she tries to continue the myth that the emails were stolen, Don’s feelings are absolute truth, the police didn’t do their job and Hager has to get a grip.

  43. randal 43

    she is just nother very stupid woman who knows nothing about the world except how much money she has in the bank and how many people are lining up to kiss her foot. typical tory really

  44. andy 44

    Draco TB

    I am sure my copy of the NZ herald had little flecks of frans mouth foaming rage fuelled spit, stuck to the page.

    I have heard more sane rants from talkback callers and Kiwiblog commenter’s.

    It must be hard when as a ‘journalist’ she has pinned her colours to the mast so to speak and turned partisan hack, shill, spokesperson for The National Party and all its ephemeral policy. To then be criticised and shown to be a dupe and a fool by Hager (another partisan) who has evidence and silly little things like facts.

    She rages impotently about how the police were not good enough at investigating something that never happened, and she tells us the are stink too! Don was just a nice guy taken down by some socialist mole inside parliamentary services (who will all be sacked when her mate John gets in and does his ‘stuff’, she will get back to us on policy BTW).

    Smearing the police and repeating the ‘theft’ meme is desperate and advocating Dons criticism of the police leaves me cold. I suspect the police quite quickly found no such theft occurred, found Don to not even understand that his google searches for asian schoolgirl porn were not private and leaving his hotmail permanently logged on was none to smart either. So they quietly made muttering excuses about Apec and buggered off for a cup of tea.

    Her further paroxysm over crosby/textor is quite telling, by truly avoiding the truthiness of John Key and whining like a 3 year old that “little Helen did it first” (spin doctors, yes we know they all do), she like most fanboys of JK can’t admit that he kinda lied about using C/T.

    I like most people are concerned about the fact that JK has not been upfront about it, when the laundry was hung on the line and everyone could see he shat the bed and tried to hide it just like Spud in trainspotting.

    The sad thing is when JK tried to pull the sheets away we all got covered in C/T inspired shit.

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