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Key, Creech, and the Dairy Investment Fund

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 am, June 17th, 2010 - 36 comments
Categories: accountability, john key - Tags: , , , , , ,

When we last looked at John Key’s trust, a swathe of senior journos had agreed it is not, as promised, blind:

Vernon Small: “the seemingly transparent ‘blind trust’ Mr Key’s lawyers have constructed for him”

Audrey Young: “a blind trust that appears to come with a braille translation.” (I like that one)

Patrick Gower: “It only takes a trip on the Tube for others to get to Key’s hidden assets. Yes, it was the London Underground that helped unlock Key’s blind trust’s holding in the Highwater commercial vineyard”

Colin Espiner: “There’s no way Key wouldn’t have a fair idea what was in there… he said he didn’t know he had shares in Highwater when he really did”

Matthew Hooton: “it’s a bit silly for him to say he has no idea what’s in there . and giving away wine from a particular vineyard that he knew he owned once and thinks he probably does now was unwise”

No-one is coming out and saying they believe Key’s trust is blind.

So, where does that leave us? It means Key has had a conflict of interest every time he has made decisions that the potential to have a material impact on the shares that are in the trust – namely, a third of Earl of Auckland, 10% of Highwater vineyard, and 8% of the Dairy Investment Fund.

The Dairy Investment Fund is a a dairy investment company (clue’s in the name), a vehicle for investing its owners’ money into dairying companies. One of the companies the Dairy Investment Fund is invested in is Kaimai Cheese, which you may remember from the Open Country Cheese dispute last year – the two companies appear to operate as one and Dairy Investment owns part of both.

Who else owns Kaimai Cheese along with Key’s Dairy Investment Fund? One Wyatt Creech, the former Deputy Leader of National that the government appointed to write an ‘independent’ review of the management of water in Canterbury. That report served as casus belli for the government to then abolish the democratically-elected Ecan council and appoint commissioners tasked with opening Canterbury up for even more dairying.

Did Key declare his conflict of interest when the Cabinet was making these decisions regarding a man he is in business with and the future of the industry they are jointly invested in? I hope so. No-one’s alleging active corruption but it is the responsibility of our elected officials not to place themselves in positions where their private interests clash with their public decision-making.

Now, evidence has emerged that Creech is far from independent from the National government:

Brendon Burns: Was the Prime Minister briefed on the 20 December 2008 Water Infrastructure Forum in Christchurch promoting irrigation for Canterbury, attended by three of his senior Ministers, and was he aware that one Wyatt Creech was also briefed about that forum via David Carter’s political adviser within 2 days of it being held?

Hon JOHN KEY: I have no recollection of whether I was briefed on that forum.

Brendon Burns: Could the Prime Minister say why Mr Creech, 11 months before he was appointed as an independent consultant heading an independent review of Environment Canterbury, was taking an intense interest via a Minister’s office in the same issues as the Prime Minister was taking?

Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Brendon Burns: I seek the leave of the House to table an Official Information Act document, which shows Wyatt Creech wanting a ‘comprehensive picture’ of Canterbury irrigation and Resource Management Act issues from David Carter’s office

So, Key is in business with Creech and knows it, and Creech was getting briefings from National on its water policy long before it appointed him as its independent reviewer of Ecan. This doesn’t look like the above-board and transparent government we expect. National has questions to answer.

36 comments on “Key, Creech, and the Dairy Investment Fund”

  1. Zorr 1

    We get the government we deserve, not necessarily the government we need.

  2. lprent 2

    Most of the intensive dairying going in these days is in water constrained areas like Canterbury and or with limited fertility like Southland, not to mention the issues with runoff that Nick Smith appears to be dealing with.

    The government is heavily involved in all areas of the infrastructure supporting dairying and alternative land use. To say the least, having a undeclared interest whilst making decisions in these industries is a bad look. To sack a democratically elected resources council whilst having those undeclared interests is just idiotic. If it isn’t criminal, then it should be.

    Is John Key really as clueless as he seems to want to portray himself to be?

    • Zorr 2.1

      Honestly lprent, I can only get through the days by ignoring everything going on around me and attempting to maintain some form of shutters. The direction that this government is taking NZ is not one I didn’t predict but it is a road I wish we weren’t travelling and the desperation that it engenders to not continue down this path drives me to distraction.

      It has struck me as a highly curious thing as to why such “obvious” abuses of power aren’t able to be focused on by the populace? Potentially I have answered that by declaring my own issues or by shrugging and saying “Well, it’s because they’re stupid/ignorant/don’t care” but I find it very difficult to write off humanity like that and remain a functioning person.

      –blarg–

      • mickysavage 2.1.1

        It has struck me as a highly curious thing as to why such “obvious’ abuses of power aren’t able to be focused on by the populace

        It is much easier for them to understand a $155 bottle of bolly on the Minister’s card than to understand the intricacies of Trust law or the concept of pecuniary advantage. So the level of indignation is so much higher, even though on dollar terms the two issues do not compare.

        Edit – Just read Irascible’s comment below. Agree entirely.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1

          I’d disagree with that. I’d say that it’s hard for people to focus on such corruption as happens in the present NACT government because the MSM doesn’t cover it and, even if they do, they don’t get in to the details enough to show the corruption – unless it’s a Labour party minister.

      • A post with me in it 2.1.2

        I am right with you on that one.

        It is not just that the populace as a whole is generally ignorant. It is that they are ignorant AND selfish AND greedy. But revealing in that truth just leads to depression. Likely a common malady among the left. (i.e. people with empathy and a conscientious)

        meh.

        • pollywog 2.1.2.1

          It’s not that we’re ignorant of whats going on, it’s that we’re ignorant of the process to stop it. Basically, we feel neutered and powerless to do anything about it cos most of us are too busy hustling getting by to spare any time to mount any meaningful protest

          the powers that be know that and exploit it…

          The other thing is, most of us don’t give a shit about bullshit penny ante credit card reconciliations. We know it’s a media beat up and concerted campaign to smear Labour while diverting attention away from Nationals dodgy dealings.

          We also know Key isn’t the man we thought he was, but we also know Goff is exactly the man we think he is. So given the choice between them, we’ll go with today’s man rather than yesterdays.

    • Bored 2.2

      No Iprent, Key is far from clueless. Given the beautiful hatchet job he just did on the Maori party, the way that he and his cronies played the several expenses fiascos to make Labour the fall guys, this man is obviously a smiling assassin. We wont hang him on this one, he slipped it with the wine, watch him dodge this whilst taking out somebody else in the process. Stuff Sony Bill, side step Jonkey is the man the ABs need.

      • prism 2.2.1

        Can’t help thinking of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. In that world they have legitimised assassins and burglars who operate under control guidelines to avoid authority stepping in and spoiling the business flow. There are rules and the result is effective and efficient (favourite economic terms). It accepts that certain things happen and the advantages are when you are burgled or assassinated it is done correctly, quickly and with panache.

        Perhaps we should stop thinking like honest people, and go after the main chance with some controls so the rush appears seemly. Just accept that is what we’ve got and get our share and off for a quaff at the Broken Drum. We seem to be getting further from the fair society with opportunities some have dreamed of.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.1

          And the Thieves Guild started selling insurance…

          • Ari 2.2.1.1.1

            Given the lack of enforcement of smaller crimes in New Zealand, there probably already is something you could get away with calling the “Thieves’ Guild”. 😉

      • lprent 2.2.2

        The tactics on the Maori Party were blindingly obvious from the moment that the coalition agreement was signed. The nature of the man and his experience made that kind of opt-in and resulting subsequent stitch up a natural. The only people that don’t appear to see it are the co-opted. B ut they ran themselves out of choices so they don’t want to look at it.

        The expenses stuff is just short-term fluff for the media. I think it will just reflect on how people view politicians in general rather than any particular party. It will even taint the greens despite them not having anything in particular.

        But strategically this government is in trouble. They are pissing off groups of people one issue at a time. Because they raised expectations unrealistically prior to the election, they also get the unrealistic disappointment.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.2.2.1

          I think it will just reflect on how people view politicians in general rather than any particular party.

          Well, I have acquaintances that are highly non-political and even they think the expense BS going through the MSM is a beat up solely to target the Labour Party.

        • Fisiani 2.2.2.2

          “But strategically this government is in trouble. They are pissing off groups of people one issue at a time.”

          Any proof of this wishful thinking? John Keys ratings are stratospheric which puts Phil Goff’s 6% in context.
          Any idea how high the JK rating goes when he shakes the hand of Shane Smeltz when he scores a hat trick against Italy? See I can do wishful thinking as well.

          • felix 2.2.2.2.1

            You are the proof, Fishy.

          • Mac1 2.2.2.2.2

            Fisiani, asking for proof?

            You’ve never proffered any when asked for it, matey.

            I used to do wishful thinking, hoping for your ‘proofs’ when asked. Never got a reply.

            “There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion.”
            Lord Acton

  3. Irascible 3

    Why no one is investigating this apparent conflict of interest and potential accusation of unacceptable behaviour is because it is too big and difficult for the populace to handle… it’s far easier to relate to accusations of misuse of a credit card and more immediate taking money from the rate or taxpayer because any journalist can write about a mis-spent $200.00 or get worked up from a massage. Legislating to favour a trust or investment arm of a business is too abstract and therefore too much to write about. That’s why no one is getting worked up about “blind trusts written in large print braille.” and the possibility the PM is not being straight up with the electorate.

  4. smokie 4

    Good work Marty. This is important stuff. Be good to see the Greens continue to follow this up.

    • dan 4.1

      Why just the Greens? I think Burns is doing a lot of digging on this one. It is the sort of issue which will complement the hammering that ECANZ and Supercity are giviing the NACT party.

      • DS 4.1.1

        Burns has been very impressive so far. Some good work done on ECAN, water rights and (as per the above) the blind trust.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Its the Holyoake years all over again. Then it was government investment in infrastructure where those in the know could buy up land cheap before approvals were made public. On top of that were the government issued ‘import licenses’ to bring in and resell overseas made goods. A license to print money at the time when scarce items could command high prices

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    Key and National are playing the media like…. like I am not sure what! They are going about lining their own pockets at every turn and the media not only are not onto it, they enable it.

    I am sure Creech was on Q and A the other week running down ECan ( I stand to be corrected).

    • Lew 6.1

      You could be topical and say they’re playing the media like a vuvuzela. One slightly flatulent note, drowning out everything else, inexplicably appealing to those doing the playing and yet highly annoying to everyone else and liable to result in a backlash.

      (I disagree, but at least it’s better than “I don’t know what”. HTH : )

      L

  7. Adrian 7

    You’ve got it GWNZ, the connection here is North Canterbury and the Hurinui River area, pretty much what the ECAN water theft was about. There are properties in that area that have options to buy on them dependent on water consents ( read more water made available in a water short region), and the big question is, does Kaimai or Dairy Investments , through nominee companies or solicitors accounts hold any of these options? If Dairy Investments is being run properly it will have potential interests in Canterbury, waterless land in Cant with an such an option is the cheapest good dairy land in NZ. There is another intrigueing name in this mix and that is the King name that has come up in relation to applications for RMA consents etc. Colin King, the MP for Kaikoura/ Marlborough (aka Mr Invisible) does own land in this area and originally comes from there, moving to Blenheim when he won the selection process. Is there a connection? I’ll bet that we’ll be lucky to see any time spent on this by the bought off media. captcha… definite… well that settles it!

  8. Tony 8

    On the surface, this is a story about the National Party…but it’s really a story about our Press and there inability to investigate.

    Running round with hard-ons brought on by several thousand credit card receipts…ridiculous – they are failing and have been failing for years to give New Zealand the journalism we deserve.

    Daily Beast and Wired.com (their reporting on Assange and Wikileaks is brilliant), Exiledonline, The Guardian…at least there’s some places you can go to witness how it can be done.

    New Zealand media – YOU SUCK

    • kriswgtn 8.1

      Totally agree and in past few days I have emailed so many journos saying just this.
      Also added when the truth does come out that they will be held accountable for their inaction and their refusal to act on the real stories.

      john Campbell has been the main focus.I thought he used to stand for something ,now hes blowing smile and wave along with the rest of them

      If it wasnt for this blog and a few others I read,I wouldnt know 80% of what the govt has been doingf , is doing and I thank you guys for keeping the truth alive

      • Roger 8.1.1

        Agreed, it seems strange that media are not following this up because the issue can be framed and sensationalized easily. John Key is clearly willing to destroy democratically elected bodies to increase his personal wealth. This is the worst kind of corruption we have ever seen, much more so than Phillip Field. John Key’s only ambition for New Zealand is to use it as his cash cow.

        • Tony 8.1.1.1

          I worked in news rooms for years…they value their unbias positions, blind to the fact that saying nothing is a form of bias.

          The thing that struck me most was the vitriol reserved for greats like John Pilger…”how can he call himself a journalist!…He’s soooo left wing”

          The panting media will turn on National eventually…but only when they’re bored and frustrated…that’s our version of unbiased media.

  9. prism 9

    Wool and sheep meat is becoming a backwater industry it seems. All the money is being invested in dairying. Putting our hopes and finances into white gold. A country in deep recession when something goes wrong in the beef and cow factory lines.

    Perhaps Nick Smith can earn some kudos in moving to clean up waterways quickly. Feculent Farmers is making disapproving noises. Is it just me or do they seem to dominate decision making (to advance themselves) in the national debate.

    • uke 9.1

      “Feculent Farmers” – excellent!

      How about “Farterated Farmers”?

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      Farmers have dominated the decision making process for as long as I can remember and probably further back than that. They’ve always been a major part of the National Party.

      • kriswgtn 9.2.1

        Yeah cos Muldoon gave em alot of $ and favours

      • ianmac 9.2.2

        Some of my best friends are farmers 🙂 but the threat from dairy farming in Canterbury and the major direct threat to clean water is a disaster. On one hand it is a chance for a family to “get ahead” but the potential cost to the rest of us is far greater. It is the wealth of dairying that is the problem. And should China develop a huge dairy industry of its own, who will be called on bail out the NZ farmer? Guess.

  10. roger nome 10

    So the Natioout Party goes about its usual job of subverting democracy for the interests of the wealthy few ….. do we hear a few pennys dropping over at kiwiblog ….. nah just another glitch in the matrix. Carry on. Business as usual.

  11. I can remember and probably further back than that. They’ve always been a major part of the National Party.

  12. citron 12

    It might be interesting to find out how contractors for Kaimai Cheese and the Dairy Investment Fund are treating their migrant labour force.

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