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Hide falls foul of Cabinet Manual

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, October 22nd, 2009 - 52 comments
Categories: act, corruption, national/act government - Tags:

The Cabinet Manual details the basic expectations of ministerial conduct. It is not law but it would be highly irregular for a minister to breach the Manual and keep their job. And, unlike the law, just because something is not expressly banned does not mean it’s OK. Here’s some provisions of relevance to Hide’s speeches for donations:

Conduct of Ministers
2.52 A Minister of the Crown, while holding a ministerial warrant, acts in a number of different capacities:

a.in a ministerial capacity, making decisions, and determining and promoting policy within particular portfolios;
b.in a political capacity as a member of Parliament, representing a constituency or particular community of interest;
c.in a personal capacity.

2.53 In all these roles and at all times, Ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards. Ultimately, Ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour.

Fees and other payments 
2.91 Ministers often appear at conferences or other gatherings to explain and discuss government policies and plans. This is an integral function of government, for which the state would expect to meet expenses and no appearance fee would be expected or accepted.

Ministers’ interests
2.57 Ministers are responsible for ensuring that no conflict exists or appears to exist between their personal interests and their public duty. Ministers must conduct themselves at all times in the knowledge that their role is a public one; appearances and propriety can be as important as an actual conflict of interest. Ministers should avoid situations in which they or those close to them gain remuneration or other advantage from information acquired only by reason of their office.

Interests of family, whānau, and close associates
2.62 A conflict may arise if people close to a Minister, such as a Minister’s family, whānau, or close associates, might derive, or be perceived as deriving, some personal, financial, or other benefit from a decision or action by the Minister or the government. Ministers must therefore be careful not to use information they access in the course of their official activities in a way that might provide some special benefit to family members, whānau, or close associates. Passing on commercially sensitive information, or encouraging others to trade on the basis of that information, may also breach the insider trading regime. (See paragraphs 8.10 – 8.12.) Such a breach may result in a significant fine or term of imprisonment.

Conduct of Ministers
2.54 Holding ministerial office is regarded as a full-time occupation and is remunerated as such. Accordingly: a. accepting additional payment for doing anything that could be regarded as a ministerial function is not permissible;

[credit to r0b for doing the research on this one]

52 comments on “Hide falls foul of Cabinet Manual ”

  1. Adrian 1

    Good work Rob. Clause 2.54 ( accepting payment for ministerial functions) would apply only if the ACT Party was seen as clause 2.62’s “close associates”. What we need, because Gutless Lockwood won’t do anything, is a fund to take private proscecutions against all these lying rorters, Hide, English, Lee, et al. I’d happily pay into it.

    • grumpy 1.1

      Great idea!!

      Would it work retrospectively?

    • burt 1.2

      A private prosecution… Don’t do that. We will never hear the end of rOb telling us that National validating Hide and killing off the court case was a brilliant use of Parliament and exactly what National should have done because the court case was a joke.

  2. toad 2

    Doesn’t Double Dipton get caught by 2.62 over the shonky arrangements with his Family Trust owning his Karori home and transferring the title of it into his wife’s name?

    Assuming, of course, that his wife and/or children are beneficiaries of the Trust.

  3. Tom 3

    Hide can relax. Lockwood will rule out any questions. Key is off to Asia. The MSM has rolled over and gone back to sleep. And the ACT fundraisers are busy planning the next event.

  4. All of these rules you have blindly quoted refer to Ministers receiving personal payment to attend meetings and such intent.

    Hide is not receiving any personal payment for speaking.


    As I have said if the Councillors showed any initiative they would simply invite Hide to speak to them at their own function if they want access to him.

    The intent of the rules clearly states that even if personal payment was deemed to be received by charging $45 a head, Hide can donate it to the local electorate in any instance.

    2.94 Ministers asked to address fundraising functions for their own electorate or that of another member of Parliament may donate any fee received to the electorate organisation involved.

    • BLiP 4.1

      Who’s paying the airfare?

      • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1

        Who’s paying for the council critters tickets?

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Effectively he is charging an appearance fee, but its going to ACT.

          Kate is doing the offshore tax arrangements to follow

    • snoozer 4.2

      but this isn’t just a fundrasier, it’s also a ministerial address to stakeholders. Those two things cannot be combined. Don’t you understand that?

      • Pascal's bookie 4.2.1

        The advertising makes it clear that the stakeholders are going to be hearing about the ‘future of local govt’ from the minister. Kate tries to say that Hide will probably just be giving a normal ACT meeting speech. Laffs.

    • lprent 4.3

      Ummm.. A couple of minor points ocour to me.

      Did the material on the conference state which electorate was doing the fund-raising? If you’d want that to apply, then it should be clearly stated.

      If it wasn’t (as I suspect) then wouldn’t 2.62 on ‘close associates’ apply? Can’t get too much closer than a party leader and their party organisation.

      Also was this stated as being a fund-raiser for Act? Not in anything that I’ve seen.

    • But clause 2.62 talks about “some personal, financial, or other benefit” and this must be wide enough to include benefitting one’s party. Otherwise the sky is the limit in terms of what a Minister can do that benefits their party as ling as there is no personal financial benefit.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.5

      I suspect you’ll find that 2.94 doesn’t include their own political party whereas 2.54 would.

  5. burt 5

    So when Winston kept the gifts he secretly received for himself and Helen Clark said the Cabinet Manual is only a guide not a rule book…

    See: http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/10/winston_declares_spencer_trust_donation.html

    I guess that was very very different…. I’m sure rOb will do his best Rob Muldoon impression and arogantly tell us why it was OK for Labour to do whatever they liked because the Cabinet Manual was only a guide in that case but this time it is different.

    • snoozer 5.1

      I don’t see anyone defending Winston. But as you obviously think that what Winston did was wrong, you must agree with us that what Hide is doing is wrong too.

      Good yo ahve you on board, burt.

      • burt 5.1.1

        If Hide is keeping the money for himself or has not been transparent and accountable for it – then I’ll call him corrupt as fast as the next person. So Yes, I’m on board in this regard.

        However if Hide is doing something quite legit and normal but Eddie and that lover of Rob Muldoon just want to prove how partisan they are by agreeing that the Cabinet Manual was only a guide when Labour were holding it but that it is a rule book when National are holding it – Then I’m not on board.

        Which is it ?

        • Pascal's bookie

          Why would what you imagine the motives of others to be, have any bearing on what you personally think?

          Do you think ministers should be using their portfolio as a party fund raiser?

          • burt

            No, not al all. But I do want to remind Eddie (and Muldoon Jr) that they have defended a party that took no notice of the Cabinet Manual in the face of corruption on a scale that makes this look like crumbs under the scampi banquet table.

            • r0b

              I’ve defended a party against a lot of false allegations Burt. That doesn’t mean I endorse everything that they do, and I’ve criticised Labour when they get it wrong.

              But Hide’s attempted corruption here goes well beyond anything Winston Peters did.

        • r0b

          However if Hide is doing something quite legit and normal

          That’s a fair test Burt. Is it legit and normal for Ministers to sell access to themselves in their role as Minister? Hide is prostituting his portfolio, so to speak.

          that lover of Rob Muldoon

          To those not quite as obsessed as Burt, he means me. My handle “r0b” is taken from Muldoon because he got me interested in politics so to speak. However as usual Burt is 180 degrees wrong, a “lover” of Mr Muldoon I am not! I can still remember the exact moment the Muldoon made me realise that the Nats must be opposed.

          And as for Winston, no, what he did was wrong, just as what ACT is doing is wrong.

    • Must … confuse … and … divert …attention

  6. ak 6

    Bear in mind too that attendees won’t be dipping into their own pockets for the fee: these funds being siphoned straight into ACT’s piggy bank will all come from direct from ratepayers – you know the ones, those poor beleaguered souls that the valiant Rodders was going to save with his “rates cap” (until he ran smack into the tory local govt cabal)

    (reminds me a bit of a certain commenter (let’s call him burt) who used to regale us with heartfelt renditions of his sanctimonious lectures to his four-year-old on the evils of “they-did-it-too”, only to now spew “you-did-it-too” in every comment. Do all these ACToids take a hypocritic oath?)

    • burt 6.1

      There is no “they did it too” defense for Hide, hang him high if he has broken the rules. I’ll even contribute to a court case if you think rOb wan’t campaign to have it killed off by validations.

      But there are people who are also commenting in this thread (lets call him mickysavage, rOb or Muldoon) who have defended far far worse than this because it was expedient to do so.

      • r0b 6.1.1

        There is no “they did it too’ defense for Hide, hang him high if he has broken the rules.

        Bravo Burt! And what if the plan to corrupt the system was widespread within ACT – should their be consequences that go beyond Hide? Should a Party so broken even exist at all?

        But there are people who are also commenting in this thread (lets call him michysavage, rOb or Muldoon) who have defended far far worse than this because it was expedient to do so.

        You won’t find me defending Peters Burt. I always said he was a nasty piece of work. You will find me insisting that he deserved due process – I don’t like lynch mobs you see. Hide deserves due process too. Let’s bring the charges…

      • burt 6.1.2

        Yes, bring the charges. Good call. I have always said and I will still say today: MPs should not have any defense for breakign the law and the Police should not have discretion when it comes to “do they charge or do they not” when an MP is involved. It should be for the courts to decide if the law has been broken.

        None of this “not in the public interest” BS that partisan hacks support when their team benefits.

        (Note: Under the conventions of parliament MPs do not have the reasonable person defense when they break a law, they wrote them, they voted for them – they are 100% bound by them. As I said – that is convention , reality seems somewhat different)

        • r0b

          Yes, bring the charges. Good call.

          In this one way you are consistent Burt, so good for you. But I ask again, if the plan to corrupt the system was widespread within ACT, is it enough to charge Hide? Should the ACT party even carry on?

        • burt

          Lets see Hide charged if he has broken the law, the party would then fall apart. But I guess you know that is the way it would work or you wouldn’t have been so happy that Labour killed off Darnton VS Clark because it would have decimated the party.

          • Pascal's bookie

            I thought you’d already agreed the D v C would have been thrown out because Clark wasn’t responsible for the spending.

            But anyway, what about key, doesn’t he have a responsibility to ensure that ministers behave with the highest levels of ethical conduct? Irrespective of Hide being charged or breaking any laws or what have you, shouldn’t he apologise, resign or be sacked? Is his current position, (leaving aside any possible court cases) untenable in your view?

          • burt

            I thought you’d already agreed the D v C would have been thrown out because Clark wasn’t responsible for the spending.

            I don’t think I did. I might have conceded that since Helen Clark was never responsible for anything that might have reflected badly on her that it would have been impossible to hold her accountable, as she proved by excusing herself from the case using the supreme powers of parliament rather than risking a ‘guilty’ verdict. However I think I took the stance that since the court had not thrown out the case it was a valid case.

            As for the PM holding the ministers to the highest standard of ethical conduct. YES YES YES, we (you and I) are going to have lots of fun agreeing on this principle stuff now that it’s National in the line of fire rather than Labour. Hey we could be mates on this blog until the next change of govt.

            But to answer the question, absolutely Key should resign if he refuses to hold his ministers to the highest ethical standards. That is his job and if he wants to be self serving and expedient about the standards he keeps then he is as corrupt as the last lot we voted out.

            • Pascal's bookie

              I think it was in that big long thread, and it was some parliament official that actually authorises the money that should of been sued. But you are probably right in that you would have taken some hair splittingly ridiculous line.

              It’s not about Key resigning yet though, he could avoid that by sacking Rodney, (and now Roy), right. At the moment it is only ACT’s position that is untenable yeah?

              What should Key do about his errant ministers?

            • burt

              A muppet would say validate them. A super-muppet would say Hide was only guilty of trying help people and a mega-muppet would say we should just move on because no laws have been broken and the cabinet manual is only a guide.

              So lets wait and see what sort of muppet Key is.

              As for;

              But you are probably right in that you would have taken some hair splittingly ridiculous line.

              Might be easier if you just acknowledge that killing the Darnton VS Clark case was a major low point of democracy in NZ rather than try and frame me as being unreasonable about it.

            • Pascal's bookie

              I’m wondering what burt says actually. Never mind Key, do you think ACT is corrupt, and should they be gone from Cabinet? You can do it.

              On D v C, I think it was a stupid politically motivated case that wouldn’t have got passed the first hearing. He sued the wrong person.

            • burt

              Bottom line Pascal’s bookie – the courts decide what is a valid case not the accused. Unless of course you support a dictatorship which frankly you must to support the Labour-led govt killing off the case against their dear leader.

            • Pascal's bookie

              “Unless of course you support a dictatorship which frankly you must to support the Labour-led govt killing off the case against their dear leader.”

              And that’s why no one takes you seriously burt. According to the logic of that statement we live in a dictatorship, and yet, we don’t live in a dictatorship. (cf elections, peaceful changing of power, so on and so forth)

            • burt

              So all this business about democracy under attack here at the standard is just bollox then ? Come on PB, you have dug yourself a nice big hole defending the accused having the right to decide if a court case should go ahead. Admit you painted yourself into a partisan hackery corner and I’ll stop laughing at your squirming.

            • Pascal's bookie

              No burt, you are arguing from the specific case and saying that it must apply to a general case. That is what is known as a steaming pile of shit.

              The most I am saying is that where there is an obviously flawed and politically motivated case, then if that case is made void through some incidental act, then it is not the end of the world as we know it.

            • burt

              So if Hide was charged (which would be politically motivated) and the National-led govt validated accepting donations because they can legally do that (call that some incidental act which killed the case) you would be completely OK with it for all the same reasons as D V C ?

              I hope we find out, because corruption cannot be tolerated just because we like the colour of the flag that benefited from it.

            • mickysavage


              “So if Hide was charged (which would be politically motivated) and the National-led govt validated accepting donations because they can legally do that (call that some incidental act which killed the case) you would be completely OK with it for all the same reasons as D V C ?”

              Uh Burt

              D v C was a civil case. No charges were involved.

              Taito was charged while Labour was in power. So how does this fit with your conspiracy theory?

            • burt


              “D v C was a civil case. No charges were involved.” – Must confuse and divert attention

              So you also think it is valid for a govt to kill off court cases when they don’t like the possibility of their leader being found guilty – even if it is just a civil case?

              Oh well, I guess like PB you won’t be joining me in any protests if National kill off any court cases in the future where their MPs are involved. Guess you won’t be commenting on any democracy under attack threads and I guess you will continue your line that Field was a victim of a political beat up.

              I wouldn’t expect anything more from you micky.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Aside from ‘not the end of the world’ not meaning ‘completely ok with it’ , and National’s hypothetical validation only being relevant to ACT rather than every party in parliament you also missed the important component of my position:

              The bit about the case being ‘obviously flawed’.

              That was what made D v C purely political, not the fact that Clark was the PM. If D was genuinely concerned about the case, he would have sued the correct person.

              But we digress,

              do you think ACT is corrupt, and should they be gone from Cabinet?

            • burt

              I’m not sure about that. On the face of it I might need to answer that yes. If a complaint is laid with the Police and the Police decide not to charge we will never know. If the Police do charge then if the court case delivers an outcome we will know one way or another.

              Like I have always said, over and over, the courts are the place to test if laws have been broken. I know this was a highly unpopular stance when laws were only broken when the govt agreed that they were broken rather than letting the courts make a judgment, but it’s been my stance all along and it is not changing now.

              BTW: “If a complaint is laid with the Police and the Police decide not to charge we will never know” is in no way saying – NO he is not. Not in the public interest to charge is not exoneration, never was under Labour and never will be for National or ACT.

            • burt

              Pascal’s bookie

              If D was genuinely concerned about the case, he would have sued the correct person.

              We have had this discussion before in “the long thread”. But here we go again.

              If the case was so obviously flawed then why did the govt kill it off by passing validations outside of normal budget cycle under urgency ?

              Surely if it was so obviously flawed (as you position requires it to be else you are supporting behaviour befitting a dictatorship) then surely they should have let it fall over and laughed their asses off at Darnton?

            • Pascal's bookie

              If the case was so obviously flawed then why did the govt kill it off by passing validations outside of normal budget cycle under urgency ?

              Perhaps no one aside from you and a few nutters gave a shit about the case, and the validations were passed for some other reason than just to make that case go away. Under this idea the case was a side show, eveidence for this idea comes from the fact that the whole issue of the case sank like a stone, with people continuing to not give a shit about it. Probably because it was so obvioulsy flawed and politically motivated. But who knows.

              As to the actual issue at hand, I’m still unsure of your position, which is entirely my fault I am sure.

              I doubt that the police will become involved, (and I don’t think this is evidence for corruption or anything, I just don’t know if it’s in their area so to speak). What i am asking is the political/ethical question, not the legal one.

              do you think ACT is corrupt, and should they be gone from Cabinet?

              This is not a question about whether the police should become involved or anything. Just, should Key sack Hide and Roy now, for not being driven snow pure enough for his cabinet? Police, charges, criminality, loopholes in the cabinet manual notwithstanding

            • mickysavage

              Yeah Burt

              PB puts the argument well. The left is pointing out the hypocracy of Key and co. Key talked about “corruption” and promised “higher standards” and “one strike and you are out”.

              And now one of his cabinet breaches all sorts of ethical standards and cabinet rules. And the left points it out, not wanting him jailed or sued or anything, just for Key to apply the standards he said he would.

              And you then attempt to confuse and divert by raising a whole lot of historical stuff with an added spin and also accusing the left of seeking a result that it is not seeking.

              Just answer the question, should Hide remain part of Cabinet?

              As far as I am concerned the answer is clear.

            • burt

              Pascal’s bookie

              I said I think on the face of it he should take a hike. Leaves my vote stranded. I’m actually still looking at it and waiting to see what happens. I’ll give it a week or two and see where it goes next. Trust me I’ll be calling for Hide to resign if it works out what he has done is wrong and corrupt.

              Pull me for acting like you and mickysave in a few months if Hide has been exonerated by a narrow terms inquiry (or he is innocent because the time to prosecute has expired) and I’m telling you guys to bugger off with your calls of corrupt and self serving.

              Till then, I’m laughing at you guys for defending this kind of crap for years and years now wanting instant gratification for all that pent up “I must defend it because it is my team” frustration.

  7. Perception is everything here. The fact that Ms Cactus feels it to be necessary to do an analysis of the Cabinet Manual to justify Mr Hide’s actions adds to the perception that this is inappropriate, It isn’t a sacking matter, for it it is sufficiently grey, but it adds up to a very bad look for Chief Perkbuster-General. No amount working out at the gym gets round this. It’s another little building block in the goverment’s edifice of amateurism.

    • Pascal's bookie 7.1

      The responses from ACTies have been fun. CK is over at red alert doing a Winston impersonation. A good likeness too.

  8. Jim McDonald 8

    All these make me recall when Rodney Hide tried to quickly distance himself from another ACT Party fundraiser … young ACT pushing cut-price party pills ($1 each) to recruit Auckland University students. Would the latest attempt at fundraising be regarded as a more refined, mature, sophisticated version? This is making me wonder what was served at breakfast …

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