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English’s days numbered

Written By: - Date published: 10:26 am, January 6th, 2011 - 54 comments
Categories: bill english, budget 2010, corruption, pasifika - Tags: , , ,

What’s to stop a government minister taking taxpayer money and giving it to, say, a family friend or a political slush fund? In theory, lots. There’s a formal budget-formation process through the ministeries and Cabinet, the Budget then has to be approved by Parliament, and the PM would sack any minister who tried such blatant corruption. Wouldn’t he?

Bill English tried to kill the PEDA issue by finally releasing OIA papers to the Herald two days before Christmas. Let’s re-cap:

Documents obtained by the Herald show that after meeting Pacific leaders in Auckland, he decided to grant a little-known private company, the Pacific Economic Development Agency (Peda), $4.8 million for Pacific youth programmes.

When his office informed the Treasury in March, officials asked the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs for information, but no one at the ministry knew of the initiative.

When ministry officials told the Treasury they know nothing, a Treasury analyst responded: “We are even more in the dark on this one – there are no Cabinet papers or anything else … maybe worth asking your minister’s office.”

A few days later, the ministry had evaluated Peda as untested, inexperienced and with a track record of not working well with others. But it proposed working with Peda to mitigate these risks in a robust purchase agreement.

The Cabinet did not approve the proposal until a month after Mr English’s instructions to the Treasury to include the money for Peda in the Budget.

On June 22, Goff tried to get English to explain what he was up to:

Phil Goff: Why does the minister not simply come clean and acknowledge that he, rather than Mrs te Heuheu, negotiated this deal, and that it was done without the normal standards of transparency, accountability and due diligence that should have been followed before he included the commitment to a specific untested agency in the Budget?

Bill English: Because that is simply not correct.

After that, the government decided to have an open tender process after all, despite that contradicting the authority to spend the money given to the government in the Budget it had just passed through Parliament.

The money was announced in May as going to Peda, but in August the ministry opened it up to a competitive tender process. Just before Christmas it announced four providers for the contract. Peda was not among them.

Goff says

“Usually if you’re making a proper decision, you’d be looking for advice from Treasury, advice from the relevant ministry, and normally you’d run a tender process to ensure you were getting the best value for money.”

That’s putting it mildly. Something very, very suspect has been going on here.

We need to know why English bypassed the usual checks and balances on government spending to try to give $4.8 million specifically to this unknown organisation. We need to know about Mary English’s links to PEDA, if any. We need to know more about the links of prospective National Party candidates Michael Jones and Inga Tuigamala to PEDA.

So far, the only government reaction has been from English’s spokesman, who said: “Ministers oversee the Budget process – officials don’t make Budget decisions”

In other words, ‘fuck off. We’ll do what we want with your money’

Not good enough. The Prime Minister (do we still have one of those? Is he back from his month’s holiday yet?) needs to commission an independent investigation into this issue.

Bill ‘Double Dipton’ English, the first Finance Minister in the world to lead his country into the second dip of recession, has already been caught with his hand in the till once – claiming out-town-allowances for living in his family home in Wellington. I suspect that a proper investigation in the PEDA money will show he has once again been rorting the taxpayer for personal or party political ends.

If there is an investigation, English’s days are numbered.

Which is exactly why John Key will try to make sure there isn’t one.

54 comments on “English’s days numbered ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Which is exactly why John Key will try to make sure there isn’t one.

    When’s Pete Hodgson back on deck 🙂

  2. Seems only 2.3 mil over 2 years went to 4 Auckland organisations ?

    http://www.minpac.govt.nz/work-and-higher-education-package-for-young-pacific-people-2/

    What happens to the rest of the 4.8 mil ? I hope the PI ministry has it in reserve.

    …as for English. He shoulda been bounced from parliament after he got his ass handed back to him in shreds after the 02 election.

    He’s had a good run, got his snout well and truly swilled up in the trough and sucked the public tit for long enough…someone please give him a map showing where he lives in Dipton again so he can fuck off back there never to be heard from again…

    thanx

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      The commentary I read was that the amount of funding was cut right back as a ‘punishment’ to sector interest groups who complained against PEDA. Don’t know if its true however, or if there is now a $2.5M left over slush fund sitting somewhere.

      • alfa 2.1.1

        You don’t know if it’s true? Well if you’re that unsure of your facts then I would say it’s definitely not true, and you just made it up but you want to distance yourself from a lie.

        What a pathetic post from a pathetic apologist for a pathetic labour party. Eddie labour have to learn a few more tricks other than screaming corruption if they’re going to have any credbility again.

        Remember labour was the party that had a finance minister that led us into the first recession in the world, and instructed the government to pay twice over the odds for a train set, paid for by a crown company with the labour party president as chairman. Corruption? Probably not, but a lot of people got unexpectedly very rich from that transaction. To the tune of half a billion rich.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          You don’t know if it’s true? Well if you’re that unsure of your facts then I would say it’s definitely not true, and you just made it up but you want to distance yourself from a lie.

          Wow trust you (Mr “We are the Left”) to take a cautious statement and read it as a bad thing! I’d say that the RWNJs are in reaching mode today. If English goes, who remains to support Key with substance? Tolley? Collins? 1st term Joyce?

          Remember labour was the party that had a finance minister that led us into the first recession in the world

          Cullen prepared us with a very low level of public debt, which English is now blowing with his unfunded deficits and incompetent economic management. National’s economic plan for the Global Financial Crisis = 18 cycleways. How’s that working out?

          Eddie labour have to learn a few more tricks other than screaming corruption if they’re going to have any credbility again.

          I agree. Claiming the scalp of another Government Minister should do the trick eh?

          • alfa 2.1.1.1.1

            Cullen blew all the surplus before the National government came into office, but don’t let facts get in the way of you repeating a lie so often that you believe it’s true. But you would have to be really stupid to believe that the people you repeat this lie to will fall for it.

            • ak 2.1.1.1.1.1

              hmmmm…..so puerile insult, “train set” and the Cullen grinch/drunken sailor lunacies are all they can recycle in defence……this could be big. Dig into that PEDA file.

            • BLiP 2.1.1.1.1.2

              Tell me, alfa, when Blinglish came into office and said on December 18 2008:

              Having condemned his predecessor for many years for paying off debt too quickly, English said: “I want to stress that New Zealand starts from a reasonable position in dealing with the uncertainty of our economic outlook. In New Zealand we have room to respond. This is the rainy day that Government has been saving up for,” he told reporters at the Treasury briefing on the state of the economy and forecasts.”

              . . . was he lying then, or are you lying now?

              • Bright Red

                oh oh, I know this one!

                English was telling the truth in 2008.

                alfa thinks he’s telling the truth but he’s actually just regurgitating spin because he hasn’t bothered to inform himself.

        • pollywog 2.1.1.2

          Personally…I’d rather have a train set than a taxcut, especially if i could pimp some wagons out and market them as high end luxury tourist packages.

          couldn’t think of a better way to see the country than by rail…

          …rather that than some stupid cycleway. I mean just where are all these freedom cyclists supposed to shit ?…in a bag and mail it to smile and wave’s place ?

          • Rex Widerstrom 2.1.1.2.1

            With instructions to the postman to set it on fire on the doorstep? 😀

            Yeah, I was watching some good old Kiwi music on YouTube last night, blubbering with homesickness, when I came across one guy who’d edited his holiday videos over the music.

            Damn, we have the world’s most diverse natural beauty. Other countries look like bits of NZ, but none can match us for everything.

            So now we’re saddled with a rail network (not something I supported buying, I might add) let’s dress it up and use it!

            • prism 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Don’t know if it would be feasible but it would be good to be able to register interest in train travel destinations on a left-wing site, and then if enough had the same travel plans, to reserve a carriage or group seating and be able to talk and meet others with similar views while trundling along.

              • = my vision of hell.

                😛 😉

                • prism

                  Well Rex W – Is it the train journey that makes you shudder or the possible conversation? You like to blog here and discuss. Wouldn’t the chance to sit and natter about current events etc be good? The discussion would keep moving forward for sure. It would probably rarely result in fisticuffs unless some people used the sort of unbridled language that they spew on-line.

                  And it would be a good way to use long travelling times, with the view from the windows real and ‘earthy’ unlike the distant vistas from planes.

                  • Yes, yes prism I was joking, hence the over-use of smilies at the end. I love train journeys, and even being trapped in a carriage with lefties would do little to dull my enthusiasm 😀

                    OTOH, the idea of luring a group of lefties aboard a fast-moving non-stop train and then revealing that their tour guide was, say, Redbaiter would provide me with a great deal of entertainment…

        • Deadly_NZ 2.1.1.3

          Yeah true but to the corruption how about we add Deception (Blinglish and PEDA)
          Dishonesty (Tax cuts) Incompetance (One cycle way in 3 years) Vanity ( the shit he went through to meet Pres of USA (AND still didn’t get invited) Dishonesty 2 (The Dalai lama)
          Incompetance 2 (The Borrowing of $9 Billion to pay for taxcuts to the rich)

          And as to the rest Even Blinglish was surprised at how good the books were 2 years ago (They’re fucked now!)

          Yes Labour bought Kiwi Rail after National SOLD it and it had been pretty much asset stripped and was in dire straits and yes we probably paid too much for it BUT all the work being done on the Rails and at least keeping some in work was all arranged by Labour and the work is being done by KIWIS

          Now Kiwi Rail needs new cars where does the Nats go??? to nz?? NO to Fucking CHINA
          which is like them saying to us fuck you…

          • MrSmith 2.1.1.3.1

            Can anyone tell me where Jenny Slippery &Wong fitted into the train deal if at all?

        • mickysavage 2.1.1.4

          Gee Alfa must have been given the RWNJ manual for christmas!

          Rule 1: Maintain the opposition is not telling the truth vehemently, even if you have no proof whatsoever.
          Rule 2: Characterise an honest appraisal as a weakness. Never ever make any concession yourself.
          Rule 3: Always say that Cullen was a terrible Minister of Finance. Ignore the decade of economic security and all of the glowing Treasury reports and the fact he left the Government’s books in remarkably good shape.
          Rule 4: If in a tight spot talk about trains.
          Rule 5: If there is any sign of corruption on the part of a National Minister see 3 and 4 above.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.5

          The only person lying in this thread so far happens to be you alfa.

          Guess what, National are corrupt – it’s the default position of psychopaths.
          Dr Cullen did not lead us into recession – the GFC did that. He left our books in remarkably good shape according to Bill English himself. Certainly better than what the psychopaths in National would have left us considering their calls for tax cuts throughout the last decade and what tax cuts would have actually done even in good times (collapsed the economy as they always do).

          As for the trains, well, they’re needed infrastructure especially with Peak Oil here and it was national that sold them to the asset strippers in the first place putting us in the position of having to buy them back.

        • Lanthanide 2.1.1.6

          It’ll be so nice when the GST stats for December quarter come out and we can conclusively say that NZ is the only country so far to enter a double-dip recession, under National’s watch.

          I’ll be looking forwards to your spin on that one.

          captcha: sincerely

          • mickysavage 2.1.1.6.1

            Double Dipton delivers double dip!

          • luva 2.1.1.6.2

            So you think it will be nice if we have gone into a recession.

            This is why politics is so distasteful to the majority of people. The left will absolutley love it if we are in recession. They will gloat and say we told you so. The left are hoping and praying that the economy has gone backwards.

            So NO Lanthanide, it won’t be nice at all. It will be fucking terrible and anyone who basks in others economic misery needs their head read.

            • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.6.2.1

              It will be fucking terrible and anyone who basks in others economic misery needs their head read.

              You mean like all the RWNJs and their bene bashing?

              The left will absolutley love it if we are in recession. They will gloat and say we told you so.

              No, we won’t love it and we won’t gloat but some of us will most definitely point out that we did say that National would trash the economy.

              • luva

                Draco

                Lanth is the one who has said it will be nice……Is that the statement of a LWNJ or RWNJ?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Learn to read sarcasm. It’s like when youngsters use “bad” to mean “good”.

                  • luva

                    sarcasm or not, Lanth isn’t alone in hoping we are in recession for the sole reason of political point scoring

                    • Colonial Viper

                      for the sole reason of political point scoring

                      No mate you got it all wrong.

                      Its for the sake of throwing these NACT tossers out on their ear so we can get on with the job of building a resilient economy and decent society which every New Zealander can participate in and be proud of.

                • lprent

                  A rarity of an actual CNJ ? that is how Lanth reads to me.
                  Frankly I cannot see how anyone could read political blogs (entertaining and diverting as they are) without being some kind of NJ

  3. stever 3

    So, at what point did the formal decision of Parliament to give this money, as they voted to do in the budget, to PEDA, get formally revoked, and by whom, and on what authority?

    Or can the Government actually ignore Parliament? Isn’t that a “constitutional crisis”??

    • pollywog 3.1

      must have been one of Gerry the hut’s dictates.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.1

        Its not a big deal to not spend money authorised by the budget. The amounts are normally maximums.

        The problem was the inserting of the ‘earmark’ into the budget in the first place. While this does happen for organisations like Plunket, for an unknown business as PEDA Ltd ( even the name is designed to mislead) its clear that MP Sam Lotu-Liga jacked this up with his friends in the pacific community and English went along with it.

    • Bright Red 3.2

      they’ll pass retrospective legislation amending the Budget.

      this actually happens every year when ministries end up not needing money budgeted for some project and spends it on something else instead, Parliament passes tidying-up legislation later. The need to be able to do this is understandable – the government can’t know exactly what it things will turn out to cost etc over a year ahead of time.

      But it’s never done with this kind of callous disregard for due process or so politically. The Budget was barely out of the House when English said ‘oh, we’ll just hand out the money in a different way then’

      • Bright Red 3.2.1

        I found an explanation from a parliament paper on the budget process:

        “Expenses or capital expenditure undertaken without authority (otherwise called unappropriated
        expenditure) are unlawful. This includes expenditure in excess of the amount appropriated,
        expenditure outside the scope of an appropriation, or expenditure undertaken without
        appropriation or any other authority (such as under a permanent legislative authority).
        For the financial year ended 30 June 2009, such unappropriated expenditure totalled more than
        $927 million. 11 This unauthorised expenditure has to be separately reported and validated in
        the Appropriations (Financial Review) Act that is passed after each financial year. In this case,
        by section seven of the Appropriation (2008/09 Financial Review) Act 2010.”

        http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/915E92F3-C7F0-4249-B27D-E0DE5FBFC38A/142407/Budget2010AguidePart1Overviewofthefinancialcyclean.pdf

  4. just saying 4

    Problem is, ditching, or even just demoting English would be a popular move especially amongst those pesky swing-nat voters with whom he is deeply unpopular.
    The focus groups may have already spoken…

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Yeah, sure, Bill English will willingly volunteer to take yet another bullet for the team. Do you really reckon?

      • just saying 4.1.1

        Wouldn’t imagine English will be too thrilled if it comes to pass.
        But he is highly dispensible and this sort of thing is the ‘smiling assassin’s’ specialty.

  5. deemac 5

    in any other country this would be a major scandal. It says a lot about who owns and controls 99% of the NZ media that it isn’t so here.

  6. Alwyn 6

    This is an entirely useless thing to attack the government on. People simply don’t understand the minute details of what is proposed and then amended in the budget.
    It is only small, and to the parties concerned seemingly inconsequential, items that really stir up a fuss with the public and gain traction.
    Remember the parties that spent money in, according to the Auditor General, illegal ways. The parties involved didn’t think it mattered and some said they weren’t going to pay it back but it was something that was understood by, and reverberated with, the public. In the end all except NZ First said they would pay it back. I’ve never seen any evidence that either the Greens or United Future actually did so but at least they said they would. NZF said they wouldn’t and Winnie is STILL copping flak about it.
    It is the case here. What did the Dom-Post have as their editorial today? It was on Phil Goff and the editorial was about the fact that he had said that he would sell his apartment in Wellington 18 months ago and he hadn’t done it. Worse was that he appeared to have someone being paid by the taxpayer acting as his rental agent.
    Now Phil was doing nothing wrong in renting out a place he happened to own. The problem was that he had promised to do something else and hadn’t done it. People understand that, even including the typically rather stupid journalists. People don’t understand this PEDA story, whatever it is. The most they are going to see that the Government changed its mind.
    Parkinson, of “Parkinson’s Law” explained it all about 60 years ago. He had the Board of a company discussing the building of a Nuclear Power plant for 5 minutes and then spending 4 hours discussing the bicycle shed that the company was also going to build. (I’m making up the times because I don’t have a copy of the book handy but they were that sort of magnitude). The point is that they understand bicycle sheds and they don’t understand Power stations.
    Similarly they understand whether a flat has or has not been sold, they don’t understand the intricacies of budget proposals.
    If you think this is party specific just change the Pansy Wong saga for Phil Goff. It’s the fact that there was the Dom-Post editorial today that makes it so striking.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      This is an entirely useless thing to attack the government on.

      No, pointing out the corruption of the present government (which ever government it happens to be) is never useless. In fact, it’s essential so that the government can be prevented from becoming corrupt.

    • Lanthanide 6.2

      You’re right Alwyn, which is why this requires the media to boil it down to a nice simple thing to understand: Bill English promised some of hits mates $4.8M in the budget. When put under pressure, he stood by the decision and deflected it to another minister, and eventually backed down and ended up giving the money to other people.

      Pretty simple really and easy for the public to understand.

      • Alwyn 6.2.1

        The point however is that the scheme WAS scrapped. Nobody got any money as further study caused them to scrap the idea.
        Talking about Treasury not approving is irrelevant. Wasn’t it Michael Cullen who dismissed their ideas as being “an ideological burp” or words to that effect.
        I don’t think this scheme, and for the life of me I can’t see ANYTHING conceivably criminal about what actually happened, is going to have any resonance at all with the public.
        It is pointless asking the press to make a simple story out of anything at all complicated. Choose things that show a clear wrong-doing and harp on that.
        Does anyone else remember how the extension of the parliamentary offices was canned by Richard Prebble (I think) labelling it as the “Parliamentary Palace” and the Carbon tax was killed by the genius who thought up “the fart tax”

        • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.1

          he point however is that the scheme WAS scrapped.

          no, the point was that the money was allocated in a corrupt manner.

          • Lanthanide 6.2.1.1.1

            Yes, this is my point and what I see the narrative is. It really doesn’t matter that the government might’ve fixed their mistake. The problem (and the story) is:
            1. They were corrupt.
            2. They lied about it and tried to cover it up.

        • Bright Red 6.2.1.2

          “Talking about Treasury not approving is irrelevant”

          they don’t have to approve of the government’s budget. that isn’t the point. the point is there is a formal budget process for creating new budget allocations. It’s called doing the due dilliegence with taxpayer money. English short-circuited that process. Why?

          “The point however is that the scheme WAS scrapped.”

          So, it’s like attempted robbery isn’t a crime, eh?

          “Nobody got any money as further study caused them to scrap the idea.”

          Actually the moeny went to other orgs, after public embarrassment forced the Nats to open the money up to tender and PEDA – the org that English was trying to give $4.8m – wasn’t good enough to win a cent of it.

    • prism 6.3

      I think one important point that Parkinson brought up in his example of committee discussion of bike sheds and nuclear programme was that a weariness sets in as the meeting trails on. After a solid hour of discussion about the bike sheds the chairman says now we have to make a decision on the nuclear program before we finish the meeting and go for dinner etc. Probably says I am sure we all have a clear understanding of this matter and nobody is going to admit to the opposite.

  7. M 7

    But, but… if English goes Key will only have one sub-alpha to kick around – Gerry – to make himself look good.

  8. tc 8

    The issue should be pursued based on the sheer arrogance of Blinglish when he’s got more subtle, less questionable devices and the means with which to cover his tracks he goes and does this.

    He knows the MSM will leave it alone besides they have some cycleway openings to cover don’t they?

  9. BLiP 9

    Hopefully someone will be asking Sam Lotu-Iiga what his involvement in this attempted robbery was.

  10. Sanctuary 10

    The Herald has scented something tasty over this – it will be interesting to see if the reporters are allowed to keep this story alive. I can’t help but see all the aspects of a humdinger of a scandal in it, it has got hints of troughing for the fat cats, a scent of corruption, and a reduction of that favourite sauce for the talk-back Taliban – free money for brown people to do nothing. What is more, the dish on offer is a salivatingly big one, the deputy PM and finance minister!!!

    Something for everyone in this one then.

    as his nickname tells us, the double dipper of Dipton has already got form in the mind of the public. I can see this bringing him down.

  11. prism 11

    I have no proof but, knowing there are always tight little groups of self-interested people with money and influence who belong to exclusive clubs in small towns, it seems highly possible that Bill English and his family connections were tightly woven into the SFC debacle. Everyone knows everybodys business in small country towns. If so the payout would then be one of the greatest examples of largesse to cronies of recent times.

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