Remember the Niue deal? Bryan Gould – Niue contract damaging to Govt reputation
And then, we have the saga of the political donation and the Matavai resort on Niue. The facts can be simply stated. The owner of Scenic Hotels, Earl Hagaman – a well-known and perennial donor to the National party – made a donation of over $100,000 to the National party, and a month later his company was awarded the valuable contract to manage a resort on Niue.
The contract turned out to be even more valuable than had appeared at first sight when $7.5 million of taxpayer-funded aid money was paid to Scenic Hotels to upgrade the resort.
In any other country, and especially in those where such deals are commonplace, no one would be in any doubt as to what had really happened. In New Zealand, however, we are naively inclined to accept the blank-eyed, slack-mouthed assurances that it was all a coincidence and that nothing untoward had happened.
Andrew Little called for the Auditor General to look in to the Nats’ process in awarding the contract, saying the deal “stinks to high heaven”. The hotel owners decided to try and embarrass Little, but he called their bluff and the deadline passed yesterday – Andrew Little refusing to apologise over his comments about a Niue resort deal
Little looks set to face defamation proceedings after ignoring an ultimatum and failing to apologise to the Hagamans.
In a statement from Lani Hagaman she said she would “see Mr Little in court” after he failed to retract and apologise his comments that a Niue resort deal they were awarded “stunk to high heaven”.
Little has written to Hagaman’s lawyers saying he has a “constitutional duty to challenge the actions of the Government over the expenditure of public funds”.
He will address the issues with the Hagamans once the Auditor-General has dealt with his request, either by “concluding an investigation or declining to conduct one” regarding a Niue resort deal.
Little is doing his job, and I’m pretty sure this vexatious lawsuit will be laughed out of court. Good of the hotel to keep the Nats’ dodgy deal in the headlines though.