Like him or loathe him Matthew Hooton sticks to his guns when his principles are offended. And he has clearly been deeply offended at Murray McCully’s antics around sheepgate.
Hooton was the person who famously said about McCully that he would find a corrupt way to run a sausage sizzle for the local hospice.
McCully’s ingenious method of dealing with a supposed threatened law suit by building a sheep farm in the middle of a desert, flying a number of sheep there and then watching as most of them died attracted the attention of the Auditor General. An inquiry was announced over a year ago.
As time passes by and the Auditor General’s report about Sheepgate gets closer to being released Hooton is not letting go of the issue. This recent tweet caught me by surprise.
— Matthew Hooton (@MatthewHootonNZ) August 25, 2016
If the tweet is correct then you have to wonder what is happening and how McCully can refuse to meet with the Auditor General and answer questions. The Auditor General has very wide powers including the ability to require statements on oath.
From the empowering legislation:
26 Power to examine on oath
(1) The Auditor-General may, in the course of the exercise or performance of the Auditor-General’s functions, duties, or powers, require a person to give evidence.
(2) The Auditor-General may require the evidence to be given either orally or in writing.
(3) For the purpose of examining a person, the Auditor-General may administer an oath.
(4) Section 108 of the Crimes Act 1961 (which relates to perjury) applies to an examination under this section.
There is an exception for cases involving possible self incrimination. But if a Minister was to say that they do not want to answer questions because it may implicate them in possible criminal offending you would think that their Ministerial warrant would be removed forthwith.
It appears that McCully is fighting the content of the AG’s report. From Dimpost:
Rumour has it the delay releasing the report has been caused by McCully and MFAT lawyering up and litigating the entire report, line-by-line. On a recent RNZ politics segment Matthew Hooton suggested that this process will involve a negotiation with the Auditor General’s office to include an exculpating sentence in the executive summary that National can seize on as evidence that McCully has been ‘completely cleared’, regardless of the findings of the report, which seems to be how these things are done nowadays.
It has now been a year since the AG started the investigation. The release must be very close. Will a Ministerial scalp be the result?