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Hide’s corrupt abuse of office

Written By: - Date published: 6:31 am, October 21st, 2009 - 67 comments
Categories: act, corruption, national/act government - Tags:

Hide smirk revAnother government minister has been caught in corrupt behaviour, and this is arguably the worst of the lot.

Rodney Hide is speaking at a breakfast in Christchurch next month. He will be speaking as minister and on his portfolio – Local Government. Local government officials have been invited to hear him. Hide is charging $45 per person, and the profits will be kept by the ACT Party, which is organising the event.

This is corruption plain and simple. If you want to hear your Minister for Local Government speak, you will have to make a contribution to the ACT party. It’s unacceptable to abuse the privileges of a ministerial warrant to fund-raise for your own political party. Hide is essentially selling access to him in his role as a minister in our government in return for donations to his political party. It’s an abuse of democracy and amounts to extortion.

Here is an interview between Hide and Susan Wood on Newstalk ZB from this Monday. Hide initially admits that the event is an ACT fundraiser, before hurriedly trying to retreat. This article, buried in yesterday’s Press, provides further info. It is clear Hide will be speaking as minister and that ACT will be fundraising. It seems from the interview that Hide has been doing it for some time.

There’s nothing wrong with a politician, speaking as a member of their party, holding a fundraiser. But it is completely out of bounds for a minister, speaking as minister, to hold a meeting with stakeholders, charge them money, and channel that money back into his party’s coffers. Hide is selling access to fill his party coffers. We do not do that in New Zealand.

The test for being a minister is not a simple legal one, even John Key said as much when he fired Richard Worth. The Cabinet Manual, which sets down basic requirements for ministerial behaviour, has this to say: “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.”

Ministers must behave according to the highest moral, as well as legal, standards. Clearly, Hide’s behaviour breaches ethical standards and possibly legal ones. This is unacceptable in our democracy. We cannot have ministers profiteering for political ends from their privileged and trusted position of power.

I look forward to Key enforcing the high standards of ministerial accountability that he promised and which New Zealanders expect. Hide must go.

67 comments on “Hide’s corrupt abuse of office ”

  1. lprent 1

    What the hell – he cannot do that!

    He is selling his services as a minister. We pay the prick to provide services to the public. It is arguable that Rodney Hide is guilty of simple malfeasance anyway for not doing his job – look at the super-shitty debacle.

    But this is simply corrupt behavior – specifically graft or malfeasance in office.

    However John Key will probably be ‘relaxed’ about it…

  2. r0b 2

    Can anyone remember a precedent for such action? Fundraisers yes, but explicitly exploiting the Ministerial role to do it?

    Some enterprising reporter should ring the restaurant and ask them what they are charging for the breakfast. Bet it isn’t $45.

    • I’m sure there were a number of Labour Party fund-raisers the advertising for which mentioned “Prime Minister Helen Clark” instead of “Labour Leader Helen Clark”.

      But maybe I’m wrong. I suspect National Party fund-raisers have (or will) call John Key Prime Minister too.

      • Eddie 2.1.1

        ah, predictably, Edgeler racing in to play some D.

        Just wait about 40 minutes, Graeme, and you can see whether you think this is a member speaking as a politician at a party fundraiser or a minister speaking on their portfolio to stakeholders – or a corrupt blend of both where stakeholders have to pay a donation to ACT to hear the minister.

      • Ari 2.1.2

        Was she consulting on matters of prime ministerial responsibility, or even one of her other portfolios? I sorely doubt it.

        • Graeme Edgeler 2.1.2.1

          You mean at none of these fund-raisers were fund-raisees invited to hear Helen Clarks vision for the future of New Zealand?

          • snoozer 2.1.2.1.1

            come on Graeme, you can do better than this.

            No-one is accusing Key speaking at the National fundraiser yesterday of being a corruption, and that’s the anagolous situation to Clark speaking to a laobur fundraiser.

            It’s clearly different when a minister is inviting stakeholders along to hear what he wants to do in his portfolio and is charging them money that will go into his party’s coffers.

            You know that.

          • Ari 2.1.2.1.2

            If we were hearing Rodney’s vision across a broad spectrum of issues rather than on his ministerial portfolio, it would make a difference- it would essentially be a normal speech at a party fundraiser rather than a ministerial address being used to drum up party funding. And yes, if Helen were caught at this sort of thing when she was in government I wouldn’t really have faith in her, either.

      • Matt Andrews 2.1.3

        Graeme – this is a valid point. However, I think there are 2 issues that mean what Mr Hide is doing is quite different from a generic PM fundraiser.

        1) The intricate link between the speech topic and ministerial “inside” information. Hide is the Minister of Local Government. He is currently working on major reforms to the local government sector. It is reported that papers on this topic are currently before Cabinet. It seems to me that one could readily draw the conclusion that by paying Act to attend the speech by the Minister, they will access at least insights and possibly information about where these reforms are going.

        2) The audience. I think you’ll find most PM fundraisers fall into one of two classes – a general fundraiser with a public invitation or a party event with a party member/supporter invite.
        This event was targeted at members of ECan and Christchurch City Council. These people have a professional interest in the topic the Minister is discussing.

        On this basis a better comparison than with a PM speech would be, for example, if you could point to a case when Phil Goff, as Minister of Defence, had asked participants in the defence procurement sector to pay money to the Labour party to attend a speech on changes to defence procurement policy. I think you’d struggle to find such an example on either side of the House.

        The Cabinet Manual puts the onus on the Minister to avoid perceptions of conflict of interest. On this basis it is hard to see how Hide as fulfilled his obligations.

        • the sprout 2.1.3.1

          well put Matt

        • Graeme Edgeler 2.1.3.2

          absolutely.

          I’m not arguing this isn’t wrong. I’m arguing it’s not the slam dunk people here seem to think it is. It’s not 100% clear that this was in the capacity as a minister. Of course, Rodney’s problem is that it’s not 100% clear it wasn’t in his capacity as a minister…

          • dave 2.1.3.2.1

            It may not be 100 % clear either way, Graeme, but, given that local authority representatives were specifically invited to the meeting by the leader of the ACT party after they had complained to the minister about local government concerns, do you really think they would want to hear what the ACT party leader thought if he wasn’t the minister investigating them?

            • peteremcc 2.1.3.2.1.1

              Again, the local councilors were invited because last time Rodney spoke to an ACT event in Christchurch, they complained that they weren’t invited!

  3. trademark 3

    I think “Hide must go” is far too wishful thinking. A disapproving comment from John Key might be more like it. But really, Hide and ACT should be held up as role models by the right for their entrepreneurial spirit and for targetting the costs of their talk to a specific set of taxpayers (consumers), especially when it looks like ACT’s falling on hard times.

    “We have got to cover our costs. We are not really trying to fund-raise. We don’t have money.”

    It’s the future of government – particularly the kind of limited government ACT might envision.

    • Ari 3.1

      It’s a sad day for the nation when “ministers must be held accountable for treating ministerial responsibilities as a personal piggybank” is wishful thinking.

      I agree with you that John Key is unlikely to fire him just yet. He seems to think that being minister of something is a good bone to throw to coalition partners, so I think he’ll be even more reluctant to dump Rodney than he would be for Worth.

  4. So Bored 4

    Sounds like a hard sell to me, who in their right mind would pay to hear this monkey? If he attracts a crowd it might prove what i always thought about local body beaurocrats.

  5. Marty G 5

    just incredible, I’ve never heard of anything like that.

    MPs fund-raising, sure. Charges to cover costs at breakfast speeches organised by ministers’ offices or ministries, sure. But a minister fund-raising at the same time as performing his official duties – effectively profiting for his party off doing his job. That’s shocking.

    captcha: ‘Duty’ – huh, there’s a word that used to mean something

  6. Having to pay money to listen to Hide would be a crime under any circumstances.

    But seriously, this is just not on. How much to see Hide as an MP I wonder, $20 per constituent?

    Wefund the money Wod, cut your losses.

  7. Tigger 7

    This type of thing is to be expected when you have a government that thinks governing is its birth right, not its duty.

  8. Nick 8

    You’re all wrong but I’m not wasting any of my time explaining why.

    It’s little wonder you guys are on 26%.

    • Trader Jack 8.1

      Yes, not like the Mighty ACT Party’s 3%

    • Marty G 8.2

      “You’re all wrong but I’m not wasting any of my time explaining why.” Sounds like the Weatherston defence.

      Come on Nick, if you’re so smart, enlighten us.

      As it stands it looks like you’re trying to cover for Hide but you can’t come up with an argument so you revert to insults instead.

      And I don’t believe The Standard is on 26%. Nor is any political party, for that matter.

    • Sam 8.3

      Well, I’m convinced!

  9. This gives Perkbusting a whole new meaning …

  10. No, *you’re* wrong, and I’m not going to explain why.

  11. Trader Jack 11

    Wasn’t Hide also caught out back in around 2000 for renting out his parliamentary office for some business meeting to do with a Pacific Island tax-haven scam?

  12. Eddie 12

    not much of a defence from the right here, just some plonker saying ‘you’re wrong cause I say so’.

    That’s telling.

    • ak 12.1

      Very telling, indeed Ed: just a lame “they did it too – I think”

      Reckon we’ll get a raft of RODDERS RORTS RATEPAYERS headlines from our valiant corruption-busting fourth estate? snort

  13. gobsmacked 13

    ACT believe in self-reliance. Take personal responsibility. A hand-up not a hand-out.

    So everyone just turn up to the speech with a home-made bacon and egg sandwich, refuse the hotel breakfast, and get in for free.

    If they still want to charge $45, then ask what you’re paying for.

    • rainman 13.1

      Brilliant work. If I was in Christchurch I’d do exactly that!

      Perhaps one of the reporters down there could be encouraged to do so, and report on the experience?

  14. Daveski 14

    Instead of paying to listen to Hide speak (and frankly who would want to), perhaps guest could be invited to do some work on one of Rodder’s houses. Goff obviously still doesn’t think that’s wrong nor does the rest of the parliamentary Labour part.

    Before you accuse me of doing the “they did it too line”, you are your own worst enemy by developing such partisan views of corruption.

    • gobsmacked 14.1

      Yes, it’s outrageous that Labour MPs wrote to the judge praising Field as a pillar of the community and using their status to try and influence the sentencing.

      Oh, hang on, that was two Ministers in the current government, and John Key said he didn’t have a problem with them doing that.

      Did you?

    • snoozer 14.2

      I don’t see anyone here defending Field. I see some kid on Kiwiblog claiming that Goff did and if Goff did he is a fool.

      Are you defending Hide? Because it sounds like it. And that’s double standards on your part.

    • rocky 14.3

      What partisan views of corruption? The same author who wrote this post also wrote one here saying the sentence for Philip Field sent a good message about this country not accepting corruption.

      Want to take back your comment?

      • Daveski 14.3.1

        My comments reflected the Parliamentary Labour view which has been appallingly silent. I didn’t mean to imply by omission that there hadn’t been comments here.

        However, the rooting tooting rorting goes on by both sides yet most here take a simplistic and partisan view. The ongoing defence of Winston springs to mind.

        As others have pointed out, Rodders will not be the only one or indeed ACT the only party to cross the lines. To then yell “corruption” from the roof tops is IMO legitimately a complete overreaction on partisan lines.

        I still wouldn’t pay to listen.

        • snoozer 14.3.1.1

          so are you OK with this or not?

          If you can show that other ministers are using ministerial speeches as fundraisers, trust me, I’ll join you in condemning them

        • Pascal's bookie 14.3.1.2

          ” I still wouldn’t pay to listen.”

          That’s not the question.

          Should Key sack him?

          .

        • Pascal's bookie 14.3.1.3

          And JFTR:

          Before you accuse me of doing the “they did it too line’, you are your own worst enemy by developing such partisan views of corruption.

          (emph. mine)

          …is a really sloppy way of trying to do this:

          My comments reflected the Parliamentary Labour view which has been appallingly silent. I didn’t mean to imply by omission that there hadn’t been comments here.

        • Draco T Bastard 14.3.1.4

          yet most here take a simplistic and partisan view.

          Actually, I find the simplistic, partisan and illogical arguments come from the right.

          The ongoing defence of Winston springs to mind.

          I don ‘t recall anyone from the left on here defending Winston – they did say that due process needed to be followed though rather than the rights call to fire him without that due process.

  15. Zaphod Beeblebrox 15

    How much do you have to pay for a minister who has ideas cabinet would actually be capable of enacting?

  16. Craig Glen Eden 16

    My little summary of the situation.

    So its a fund raiser for Act, thats what the event is for because otherwise it would be a Minister charging people to come and hear him talk on his portfolio?
    Which would be a breach of Ministerial duty surely?

    But hang on, oh no its not an ACT fund raiser really, the $45.00 is for breakfast.So its not a fund raiser then? So Act are not going to make money out of it ? No they have no money and the local Act branch does not know if head office has any, money that is.

    Would that then be why they the Local Act branch are holding a non fund raiser event ?

    It all makes sense now, riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

  17. Ianmac 17

    If Field used his Office to gain a pecuniary advantage and received 6 years in prison, how long should Hide receive if he uses his Office for a pecuniary advantage?
    “There are more important things to worry about,” said John Key. “I am of course very relaxed about it all and I am just off to buy a new tie.”

  18. Ianmac 18

    Questions in the House? Anyone?

  19. the sprout 19

    never fails to amaze how the right get ripped-off blind for anything they pay for.
    $45 for breakfast – WTF? is that for like caviar and crayfish?

    • Craig Glen Eden 19.1

      No its for Bacon raised in a metal cage and eggs from featherless chickens.

      But be assured sprout its all very privately run and efficient.

  20. BLiP 20

    Using his office to raise money in a dodgy fashion is not a new thing for Wodney. Its ten years since he flew first class to Fiji where, as the recently elected “perk busting” MP, he lent credibility to a seminar run by Investors International – a global scam which fleeced New Zealanders of $10.1 million and for which the principals were sentenced to jail.

    Wodney denied everything then and, although the stakes are smaller this time and the ACT party probably isn’t planning on investing on behalf of the attendees, it looks like he hasn’t learned a thing.

    Did you hear him at the end of the interview:

    Susan! You’re making this out as though its my problem

    .

    The disconnect between his actions and the consequences is remarkable. Does he have any idea of the consequences of his politics on average New Zealanders? Probably not.

  21. But is it a crime? Almost all of the elements are met; all it hangs on is whether you regard a political donation as a bribe. Which is an awfully thin thread to hang a defence on, when we’re talking about public faith in the political system.

    But regardless, it doesn’t pass the smell test. Ministers should not be charging for actions performed in their ministerial capacity (and promoting policy is explicitly listed in the Cabinet Manual as an example of a Ministerial function). And we should have absolutely no tolerance for corruption in our political system. Hide should resign or be sacked.

  22. This of course is all on top of the Roger Douglas’ tax payer funding book only 2 months ago.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/politics/75077/sir-roger-publishes-book-public-pay

    • felix 22.1

      Hmm, I seem to remember burt implying that Roger only did that to show us that there are exploitable loopholes in the system. And the only way to explain that to us is to, you know, exploit them. So he was doing us a favour, really.

      I wonder if he thinks Rodney’s doing us a favour too.

      • Yes, there hasn’t been a lot of reply from the right, I suspect there will be overtime for the young Nat’s parliamentary research team tonight, hopefully they will have some lines ready for Farrar in the morning, and some “Labour\Greens did it to”‘s ready for the sewer dwellers. We shall see!

  23. Pascal's bookie 23

    These there invites that went to the council critters.
    Were they addressed to them in their official capacity?
    Would the ChCh ratepayers usually foot the bill for functions they attend?
    Was the Minister of LG asking ratepayers to fund his party?

  24. So in exchange for immigration help one needs to tile a house – and you’re comfortable with that? But for Rodney to ask ACT members to pay for a standard breakfast meeting is wrong?

    All parties incl Labour and ACT run breakfast meetings. There is always a charge for such events. Last time Rodney held a similar event for ACT members he got a lot of flack for not inviting outsiders. So when he does invite them he gets harrassed too.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Rodney will never be good in your eyes. Thankfully neither he, ACT or myself are trying to impress you 🙂

    • BLiP 24.1

      Au contraire – Wodney has definitely made an impression on many New Zealanders. Its not like he hasn’t been involved in dodgy money making schemes before.

    • Armchair Critic 24.2

      “Thankfully neither he, ACT or myself are trying to impress you”
      Good plan, Clint. Why would anyone try to increase their share of the vote when they already have a whole 1.7% firmly within their grasp? Trying to get any more of the remaining 98.3% would just be greedy.
      And if I could say one nice thing about ACT, it is that they have done a great job of not impressing me.

  25. I think you’ll find BLIP, the word “unwittingly” was used in this article to describe Rodneys involvement.

  26. …or anybody who REALLY thinks this is a real story of corruption, especially after the last 9 years 🙂

    • Pascal's bookie 26.1

      So if Winston had invited a bunch of ambassadors to an event

      to hear the foreign minister discuss “the future of NZ’s foreign policy”

      and scored a 1000 bucks a head off them for NZFirst,

      y’all would have had no problem?

      Right.

      • felix 26.1.1

        Yeah but Clint is a guy who thinks that you can get away with anything as long as you put a smile on it.

        Hey Clint, you’re such a knuckle-dragging idiot 🙂

    • felix 26.2

      Of course you’re right. Pocketing extra money for doing your public sector taxpayer funded job, that’s not corrupt at all.

      Signing a painting for a charity auction is REAL corruption.

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