web analytics

Key implicated not vindicated

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, February 21st, 2013 - 21 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, john key, national - Tags: , , ,

Before the Auditor General’s report on Sky City was even released, Key was trying to spin it as a “vindication” of his involvement. (The Greens are calling for Key to be censured for this breach of confidentiality.) Key was trying to get his spin in early because, of course, the report is not a “vindication” at all. John Armstrong (of all people) called Key out in no uncertain terms:

Sky City report ‘deeply disturbing’

Verging on banana republic kind of stuff without the bananas – that is the only conclusion to draw from the deeply disturbing report into the shonkiness surrounding the Government’s selection of SkyCity as the preferred builder and operator of a national convention centre.


The Prime Minister’s attempt to downplay Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith’s findings in advance of their release yesterday by saying he had not lost any sleep from reading draft copies may turn out to be a costly political miscalculation.

John Key may have escaped personal blame for the serious flaws in the old Ministry of Economic Development’s handling of the convention centre project but the report is far worse than he had been leading people to believe.

He is taking refuge in the report’s assurances that no evidence could be found to suggest “inappropriate considerations”, such as connections between political and business leaders, were behind the final decision for the Government to negotiate with SkyCity as the preferred bidder. In other words, no corruption. Or at least none that could be found.

An interesting distinction for Armstrong to make.

Smith’s report, however, does not mince words when it comes to slamming the whole selection process from the seeking of expressions of interest to their evaluation as being neither transparent nor even-handed, with four other interested parties seeking the nod to build the convention centre being kept in the dark for months while the Government got cosy with SkyCity. Things got so bad that some officials expressed concern to superiors that proper procedures were not being followed. …

Key may not be losing much sleep. But this report is no comforting, soft bed of hay. It is a bed of nails.

And now today The Herald points out that Key’s Tourism Ministry ignored Treasury advice on how to proceed:

Treasury’s SkyCity advice ignored

Officials in one of Prime Minister John Key’s departments disregarded Treasury advice to seek guidance in how to conduct SkyCity talks with honesty and integrity.

… the Tourism Ministry, for which Mr Key has responsibility, was told by Treasury in November 2009 to seek advice from the Auditor-General “to determine the probity” of its discussions with the casino company. “We have no record of any contact with ministry officials on this topic at this time,” Deputy Auditor-General Phillipa Smith said in her report.

Why would Key’s Ministry be keen to ignore advice on how to proceed with “honesty and integrity”?

The process was so obviously flawed and unfair that (from the same article) one of the competing bidders in the process is talking about seeking a refund of its costs “wasted on a bid that was never seriously considered”. I wouldn’t be surprised if all competing bidders were not making such claims soon. Why wouldn’t they?

It looks like the Sky City fiasco is far from over for Key. As David Shearer put it “He was not vindicated, he was implicated”…


21 comments on “Key implicated not vindicated”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    This is nothing short of corruption. Arguably the worst seen in this country.

    Has a Prime Minister of this great country ever been more in bed with big business than this crook is? When he gets rolled and doesn’t have the power of government backing him, he should be investigated.

    This is terrible.

    • Afewknowthetruth 1.1

      Key will eventually be awarded a position as an ambassador or a position in the UN, or perhaps the World Bank, as reward for services rendered to the global elites who are running the show. A knighthood is not out of the question.

      It’s always been corrupt; it’s just that the elites can be more brazen in their looting, now that they have dumbed-down the general populace and reduced the bulk of the media to for-profit propaganda machines.

      • tracey 1.1.1

        he will NOT go to the UN (it is at its base humanitarian) – I can see him at the World Bank however.

        ” he had not lost any sleep”

        I believe him. Money is the ruler of his life and his ethics. IF money is saved it must be good appears to be his motto. However citizens are not shareholders.

        here is a so-called leader who takes NO responsibility for those he leads. He is happy for those below him to carry the can for what are in all likelihood his instructions. That is cowardly.I

        • muzza

          The UN is not humanitarian, thats only what people want to believe it to be!

          Key – its not about the money, not for those he answers to anyway!

    • Stever 1.2

      Our very own Berlusconi!

  2. DH 2

    This business is wrong on so many levels. SkyCity occupy a very privileged position. They have a state sanctioned monopoly that not only guarantees their revenue but also permits them to maximise their profits through absense of competition. (The house odds wouldn’t be so favourable if there was two casinos competing against each other for business)

    They’ve been abusing that position for years with their lobbying and court cases against the Govt. Any responsible Govt should be putting SkyCity in their place yet here this mob are sanctioning not only expanding their monopoly but granting them another!

    Audit office may not have found any evidence of corruption but the behaviour of this Govt towards SkyCity sure makes me think they needed to look harder.

    • One Tāne Huna 2.1

      “look harder”

      Do you think they wrote it down, or allowed meetings to be recorded?

      “I’ve seen the proud statement of a former Attorney General who protected his boss and now brags on the fact that he tiptoed through a minefield and came out ‘clean’. I can’t imagine somebody like
      Thomas Jefferson tiptoeing though a minefield on the technicalities of the law and then bragging
      about being clean afterwards.”

      Jimmy Carter 5-4-74

      How “clean” is Johnny Key?

      • DH 2.1.1

        Yeah that’s the problem isn’t it, the chances of there being phsyical evidence are very slim. It is possible to build a case on the law of probabilities though and I think the AO could have done more there.

        Take these concessions SkyCity demanded. The AO never considered that the other parties to the tender would also have built a ‘free’ Convention Centre if they’d been offered the opportunity to demand concessions. Infratil were one of the parties and they’d have a huge shopping list of legislative changes that they’d trade for building a Convention Centre. No-one has even thought of that angle yet and it does look a bit like Key offered SkyCity an exclusive deal that he never intended offering anyone else.

        • One Tāne Huna

          The appropriate authority to deal with National Party funding, and its relationships with its clients, is the Serious Fraud Office.

          We’re way beyond the mere perception of a conflict of interest here.

          • Murray Olsen

            Given that we probably only ever see the tip of the iceberg and the way Key protected Banks, I can’t argue with that.

  3. freedom 3

    Why would Key’s Ministry be keen to ignore advice on how to proceed with “honesty and integrity”?
    because Parata had the cabinet’s only dictionary, she was still trying to find out what ‘assurance’ meant.

    • tracey 3.1

      because honesty, integrity and transparency aren’t what made J P Morgan “great” (I use that term advisedly) and that is where he learned his stock and trade. Finally some might begin to see what you get when you assume someone from the Gordon Gheko world is the right person to lead a nation and lay a future for its children.

      If I were shearer I would start calling Key Gordon Gheko… Key’s electorate know exactly who that is

  4. ropata 4

    WHY do they have to stick their freakin convo centre in the middle of the most congested street in New Zealand? I spent 40 minutes on Hobson St last week trying to get past 4 sets of traffic lights to get home. Surely there’s loads more space down by the airport.. oh and there’s already a bloody convention centre out there!

    Gambling probably causes 100 times more damage to our society than a marginal habit like smoking. The media parrot all the anti smoking government PR, but never question the proven family and wealth destruction caused by gambling. It should be equally marginalised and penalised.

    (Repost of my comment from Tumeke)

  5. tracey 5

    Theres no credible evidence auckland needs one or can make it pay its way. Aotea never paid its way

  6. TightyRighty 6

    All else aside, I hope you muppets finally realise that the media is not a stooly of the right. It does Actually call it as it unfolds. So all that criticism of it might be unfounded? It may not sing the time you want, but at least it hasn’t copied it.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      So all that criticism of it might be unfounded?

      Nope, all the criticism is still spot on. The MSM really is bad at it’s job of holding the government and private corporations to account. This is probably because they are a private corporation that collectively believes in the delusional economic paradigm put forth by the politicians and economists.

    • ropata 6.2

      TR. *some* media now are slowly waking up that key and his pals are a pack of lying crooks.
      But their rapturous ejaculations of keyster worship in 2008-2009 were disgusting to behold

  7. mike e 7

    Tighty almighty poorly constructed sentences and argument!
    Ru saying the tide has turned and shonkey is dog tucker!
    Compulsive Insider trader caught out again!

  8. aerobubble 8

    Yeah, what gives. Every other bidder believed the Government was going to put money up, because they made offers that require govt funding.

    And Skycity hopes nobody would notice the placards outside of anti-pokies machines protesters demand a say since it was their hard work that contributed to the pull down of pokie machines numbers and the government immoral use of pokies to sweaten the deal.

    What good is having a conference center that many conference goers would not wish to be associated with, isn’t it bad enough having conferences in a gambling den, now they will
    be consenting to actively increasing gambling and undermining the efforts of anti-gambling
    forces. Imagine working hard to keep a reserve safe, then National rush in and say, okay
    we can build a housing estate here, thanks for keeping the developers off.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • A charge on plastic bags – debunking some myths
    The launch of my Members’ Bill last week, which would introduce a 15 cent charge on single-use plastic bags at the check-out, has generated a lot of comment on mainstream and social media. From The Paul Henry Show at the ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    12 hours ago
  • National’s $1trillion property sandcastle
    The National government's failure to fix the housing crisis has seen the ballooning and unsustainable property market touch the $1 trillion mark, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. "Labour wants an economy that creates high wage work that is based ...
    13 hours ago
  • Government failure on housing crisis drives Reserve Bank to add tools
    If the Government was delivering a comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis, it is unlikely that the Reserve Bank would be continuing to pursue debt to income limits for lending for housing, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    1 day ago
  • International embarrassment for NZ likely over National’s failure to protect Maui dolphin
    New Zealanders who care about Maui dolphin should prepare to feel embarrassed: the Government is about to be put to shame on the international stage for its lack of action to protect Maui’s dolphin. The International Whaling Commissions’ 66th Biennial ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    4 days ago
  • Why don’t we spend $1b to keep people out of jail, rather than spending it on keeping them in?
    Earlier this week, Corrections Minister Judith Collins announced the government’s ‘solution’ to our burgeoning prison population. It seems that most, if not all, of Bill English’s hard-won surplus is going to disappear into another round of prison-building.  That must be ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    5 days ago
  • PKE Ship Sent Packing – Not Too Soon
    It is appropriate that the palm kernel expeller (PKE) ship off Tauranga has been sent packing. For weeks I have been saying this ship needed to be sent away, but it seems as if MPI has been trying to find ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    5 days ago
  • Do you #LoveSnow?
    I was a lucky kid. When I was about five or six my mum and auntie took me up to Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu and taught me to ski. As a young kid I thought there was no bigger ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    5 days ago
  • Awa Kairangi/Hutt River – Swimmable?
    On Thursday night I hosted a great swimmable rivers meeting organised by the local Greens in Heretaunga (Hutt Valley). It was great to see about 70 people attend and engage in the topic. We were welcomed by Te Atiawa representative ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    6 days ago
  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    6 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    6 days ago
  • Barry Coates on his first weeks in Parliament
    Week one in Parliament has been quite an occasion. I would like to share the experience. I had given up on the prospect of getting into Parliament before the election and had been enjoying the diverse work I was doing ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    6 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    7 days ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    7 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    7 days ago
  • Vote Sooty Shearwater/Tītī for Bird of the Year
    Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) are amazing and deserve your vote in Forest and Bird’s Bird of the Year competition.  They make one of the longest known bird migrations, flying an annual round trip of 64,000 kms across the entire Pacific ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    7 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    1 week ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    1 week ago
  • Energy use going in the wrong direction
    New data out this week from Statistics NZ paints a concerning picture of energy use across the economy under this National Government. You won’t be surprised to hear that there is some seriously worrying information here about how dirty our ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    1 week ago
  • Junior Doctors go on Strike
    Thousands of junior doctors took strike action for 24 hours this week for better working conditions and safer working hours.  The Green Party supports their cause, and particularly their claims to reduce the number of days worked from up to ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    1 week ago
  • Strengthening our relationship with the Rātana movement
    It was a privilege to visit Rātana Pā last week with fellow Greens’ Co-leader James Shaw, our Māori Caucus and senior staff to meet with the leaders of te iwi mōrehu, to strengthen the ties between the Green Party and ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    1 week ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    1 week ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disconnected thinking dirties the water
    Iain Rabbitts’ belief that drinking water quality, charging for water use and the land use that leads to water quality degradation should be treated separately is part of the problem we have right now in this country. The connection is ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Report back from Hands Off Our Tamariki hui
    This week I attended a hui in Otaki organised by Hands Off Our Tamariki about the proposed reforms to the Child Young Persons and their Families Act. Moana Jackson and Paora Moyle spoke.  They expressed deep, profound concern about the proposed ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s visionless immigration policy
    National’s recent immigration announcement is a continuation of the visionless approach to government that it has displayed in the last three terms. Rather than using the levers of government to implement a sustainable immigration policy that benefits new and current ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seclusion rooms in schools
    Schools are undoubtedly stretched and underfunded to cope with students with high learning support needs. But this cannot justify the use of rooms (or cupboards) as spaces to forcibly isolate children. It has emerged via media that this practice continues ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Public should get a say on new Waikato power station
    I had an opinion piece published in the Waikato Times about a controversial proposal to build a new gas-fired power station. It’s not on their website yet, so here it is: If you think the public would get a say ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • MSD and their investment approach
    The Government talks about investment but there is no investment. It is not investment if it isn’t over the whole of life and if there is no new money  — Shamubeel Eaqub   Investment sounds like adequate resourcing but this ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Certainty needed for community services
    A couple of months ago I was at a seminar where three community organisations were presenting. Two of the three presenters were waiting to find out if their organisation would get a contract renewed with MSD. Not knowing if their ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Domestic Violence – some advice for the media
    For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to use Domestic Violence (DV) as a proxy for intimate partner violence. DV is not isolated to physical abuse in a relationship between people with the same power. DV is a pattern of ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Leroy’s New Paw Prints
    Leroy, an Auckland great dane recently received a new 3D printed bionic leg after cancer was discovered. I think this is a fantastic story and highlights the real potential of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing Leroy’s prosthetic was printed in titanium and was ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago