Rodney Hide was always going to go one of two ways to try to excuse his corrupt abuse of office. Remember the facts:
- Hide is Local Government Minister.
- He will be speaking at a breakfast on Local Government issues.
- The breakfast is called ‘The Future of Local Government’ and the invitation promises attendees that “Minister of Local Government Hon Rodney Hide has a significant programme to enhance the operation of the Local Government sector” and he “will present his views on The Future of Local Government in New Zealand“
- Representatives from local government and other stakeholders have been invited to the breakfast.
- The invitation, although fastooned with ACT colours, makes no mention of this being an ACT fundraiser.
- The cost of a ticket is $45, the most expensive breakfast at the hotel is $21. The money goes into an ACT account.
It’s not permissable for a ministerial speech to also be a party fundraiser- John Key reaffirmed that basic principle. So, either Hide was obviously going to say either it’s not a fundraiser or he’s not speaking as minister.
Oh noes, mah crediblitez
But after The Standard pointed out the problem with a minister speaking as minister then pocketing the money for his party, Hide’s tune suddenly changed. Now, Hide claims it is a fundraiser and he is not speaking as minister.
So, a few questions naturally arise:
- why did Hide initially claim it wasn’t a fundraiser?
- why the sudden reversal?
- is it normal to invite stakeholders in a minister’s portfolio (including a former Labour minister) to a party fundraiser?
- why does the invitation give the clear impression he will be giving his views as minister on local government if he won’t be? Is it even possible for a minister to speak on his portfolio but not as minister?
No Right Turn raises the issue of illegality. I’m no lawyer, so I won’t attempt to cast judgment on that and, anyway, it’s not my primary concern. As John Key has noted, being a minister is not a legal test, it is a question of whether or not the minister has upheld the high ethical standards the public rightly expert of officials we entrust with great power.
Hide’s behaviour is unethical and corrupt. That’s why he must go.