- Date published:
9:54 am, December 24th, 2010 - 32 comments
Categories: bill english, corruption, pasifika - Tags: georgina te heuheu, Inga Tuigamala, michael jones, oia, pacific eye witness, peda
The day before Christmas, in what will surely be a forlorn attempt to bury the story, Bill English’s office has finally relented after months of resistance and released under the OIA papers on how the unknown Pacific Economic Development Agency was awarded a $4.8 million blank cheque in the Budget. This looks serious.
The Herald has helpfully compiled a timeline of events:
THE EMAIL EXCHANGE
Bill English’s office emails Treasury to inform it of decision to give $4.8m over four years to Peda.
TREASURY EMAILS THE MINISTRY OF PACIFIC ISLAND AFFAIRS
“We don’t know a great deal more about this initiative…presume someone in [Pacific Island Affairs] must know about it?”
“The information we have over here on this is very sketchy. Are you able to send us or point us in the direction of the Cabinet papers so we can proceed?”
“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.”
Ministry advice on Peda says it is untested, unproven, does not work well with others and is proposing programmes that would overlap with existing ones.
Pacific Island Affairs Minister Georgina te Heuheu meets her officials, requesting information to be presented in one A3 sheet to “show the big picture and overlaps”.
Ministry head Colin Tukuitonga’s email (recipient withheld): “I am unconvinced about the [Peda] ideas.”
Budget announcement of $4.8m over four years going to Peda.
Ministry announces competitive tender process.
Four companies win Government contract. Peda not one of them.
So, out of nowhere, this unknown, unproven agency is awarded $4.8 million from the Pacific Affairs budget with no knowledge of the ministry or, apparently, the minister. This seems to be entirely an initiative of English, with Georgina Te Heuheu coming in later to try to cover his tracks.
Why was English trying to give $4.8 million of our money to this organisation, which couldn’t even get a dime when the contract was put to competitive tender?
An independent investigation (not run by Hugh McPhail) into English’s personal links with Peda along those of prospective National Party candidates Michael Jones and Inga Tu’uigamala is called for.
The only explanations for English’s actions that make any sense are a personal favour or an attempt to boost the profile and popularity of National’s two World Cup year ring-ins. It would be staggering if English has fallen to such depths but, then, the man earned the title Double Dipton for a reason.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that this apparently corrupt attempt by English to put taxpayer money into a slush fund for his mates and National Party candidates might have gone unnoticed if he hadn’t been for the sterling work of Pasifika media including Efeso Collins on 531 PI, who was taken off the air for asking too many questions, and the gutsy Pacific Eye Witness blog. Carmel Sepuloni and Su’a William Sio also asked the tough questions in the House.
English may think that he’s managed to get away with whatever he was up to by releasing this information on Christmas Eve but he’s wrong. This is no longer the age when the political media was limited to a handful of gallery journos who don’t come back till work until mid-February, barely remembering December. The gallery and the non-msm media are a lot more tenacious now. English will be hounded until he explains what the hell he was doing with our money.