Bryan Gould says words that need saying:
Niue contract damaging to Govt reputation
The bad news keeps coming. In the last couple of weeks, New Zealanders have discovered that our country is being touted to tax dodgers and other criminals as a good place to hide their money with no questions asked. Our Prime Minister’s initial response was to welcome the business, however disreputable it might be. …
Then, we were alerted by the Morgan Foundation to the fact that our response to international pressure for action on climate change is a sham. … the credits we buy from foreign traders are not genuine but are issued by countries who are known to be scamming the scheme. Most countries have refused to sanction such a trade, but New Zealand, sadly, goes along with it, and is by far its biggest customer – another shady deal and another blow to our reputation as a good international citizen. We are, it seems, climate change cheats.
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.
Worth reading the above paragraph again.
The government will treat the issue as business as usual – as, sadly, it has become. Its supporters will gladly believe that it was all an invention by political opponents. But this is an issue that transcends party politics.
There are good political reasons for supporting or criticising a government on a whole range of issues, but those issues surely do not include attitudes towards sleaze and corruption. New Zealanders of all political persuasions can surely unite in insisting that the highest standards are met in our public life. The government’s supporters have a special responsibility, since one hopes that the government will listen to them, to ensure that their government understands what is and is not acceptable. …
Sleaze and corruption as usual – hard to see why Nat supporters will be worried about this when they have already accepted so much.
And for those trying to drag Ardern in to this – the award of the contract is not in itself a problem. It is the award of the contract in the context of the donations to National. Who knew about the donations, and when?