There’s a few things about Key’s story regarding his shares in Jackson Mining that don’t stack up.
First, he says Jackson Mining was just an Aussie gold mining company when he bought them and that they didn’t get involved in uranium until a merger that saw become part of a company with uranium mines in South America. But Jackson mining was already involved in uranium exploration in South America before that merger when Key listed his interest in the company last year.
Second, Key claims not to have known about the merger until the Q+A interview, but let’s read the transcript of the interview:
“GUYON Okay so that’s not something you’ve looked into because it looks like that Jackson Company has significant interests in mining uranium in Australia and Argentina, in the new guise of the company which is called Cauldron. I mean is that something that you as the leader of a nuclear free country would be concerned about, or is this not something you’ve looked into?
JOHN It’s not something I’ve looked into since I bought it back in 2001 or whatever when I was in Australia, so as I say I was a reasonable shareholder at the time, I actually sold the vast bulk of shares I owned, it was a very small amount, and the reason I didn’t sell them was their value was so low, if they’ve done a merger that’s the first I know about it today.”
How did Key know that there had been a merger, and not, say, takeover or just a sale, if he didn’t know about it before this question was asked? How didn’t he know this company was involved in uranium mining when it has been the company’s major focus for several years?
And another thing, remember when John Key was involved in a conflict of interest over Tranzrail? He was asking questions as an MP that gave him inside information pertinent to the price of his shares in the company. After being caught out and lying on TV about it, Key promised to put his assets in a blind trust, where he wouldn’t able to be tempted to use his position of authority and trust for personal financial gain again (apart from awarding himself whopping great tax cuts, of course).
Now we learn that, in fact, Key hasn’t put all his financial assets in a blind trust, he’s held on to the foreign ones including Jackson mining. I don’t think Key can claim that these shareholdings are different from his New Zealand ones. His decisions as Prime Minister can clearly impact on the value of his international shares. Particularly as his government continues with its moves to open up the conversation estate to Australian mining interests.
As Phil Goff said:
“When you’re Prime Minister you’ve got to be very careful about that. Perception is everything. You’re about to mine our pristine national parks and you’ve got mining shares? You’re Prime Minister of a nuclear-free and proudly nuclear-free country and you’ve got shares in a company that mines uranium? Not a good look”
Why is it that Key thinks he can play these dirty tricks and then thinks he’ll be let off the hook if he acts contrite and confused when he’s caught? Maybe because it always works?
And how blind is that trust, really?