More Nat cronyism

Written By: - Date published: 12:21 pm, July 23rd, 2012 - 11 comments
Categories: corruption - Tags:

Another example of cronyism from disgraced former minister Nick Smith has emerged. He overrode officials at the Ministry for the Environment, who had declined an application for $200,000 for meetings to resolve disputes between farmers and environmentalists in the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley, so a former Nat candidate could pocket the cash.

Here‘s what officials had to say about the project we were being asked to fund:

Environment Ministry emails reveal officials had reservations about the project. Deputy secretary at the time Sue Powell wrote in October: “We remain deeply concerned at the level of professional fees being paid into this process; some of the costs charged also have us concerned.”

Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield also had no truck with the initiative. The agency stumped up $5000 in October but he balked when asked for more cash. In January he wrote to the ministry: “God, these people are annoying. One of the reasons I was willing to underwrite their meeting before Christmas was to get them out of the way.”

He worried the process conflicted with Canterbury’s water management strategy, calling it a “silly and potentially confusing overlap in a small community”.

But Nick Smith insisted that the money be paid out (funny, you would have thought that was one of those ‘operational matters’). $180,000 as paid out:

More than half the cash went to environmental consultants – including about $88,000 to Ecologic, a firm run by Dr Smith’s friend Guy Salmon. Mr Salmon is also linked to the National Party ginger group the BlueGreens….

A series of two-day meetings cost about $25,000 per event and officials worked out Mr Salmon was receiving three-quarters of that – about $18,000 per meeting.

More than that, Salmon was a National Party candidate in 2002. And not a joke at the bottom of the list, either, he only just missed out.

Key, of course, is relaxed:

He added: “I’m sure someone will have a cursory look at it . . . Maybe the minister’s office or my office . . . I don’t see it as a terribly big issue but I’ll reserve the judgment to go and have a look at it.”

But Grant Robertson points out this has a familiar stink about it:

“This project was highly political. For goodness sake, the trust was launched at a conference for the Blue Greens . . . the Government must clarify how the trust came to be funded. At the moment the public are being left with the all too familiar stench of National Party cronyism.”

I reckon Nick Smith can kiss his hopes of coming back to cabinet goodbye.

11 comments on “More Nat cronyism”

  1. Peter 1

    This is utter tripe, and a good example of why someone should check their facts before spinning stories. I’m disappointed that Grant Robertson took to grandstanding before fact-checking, but I’m more disappointed with you effectively discrediting the hard voluntary work of many organisations who have achieved a significant victory for conservation in the Mackenze Country.

    I am proud to have my organisation’s signature on the document, and when this gets released to the public later this month, you’ll be feeling mighty silly for your article above.

    I personally attended every single Mackenzie Forum meeting over a year and half on behalf of my organisation – the Federated Mountain Clubs – and I must say that the price of Guy Salmon and Richard Thompson’s involvement (Richard was chair of the successful Manawatu Forum) would have been cheap at twice the price.

    And if anything, Jacqui Dean put her own money into it, rather than the other way around as you imply.

    By criticising this process you are effectively criticising the hard work of at least 20 organisations, including Forest and Bird, EDS, the Ohau Protection Society, and others, who would be highly unlikely to stand for some sort of tory rort.

    Financial oversight of the process was in the hands of a Trust which had balanced representation of agricultural, commercial, environmental, and community interests, as well as having both Mackenzie and Waitaki District Council mayors on board.

    I request that you remove this article from your site until you’ve had it properly fact-checked.

    Yours sincerely,
    Peter Wilson
    Vice President
    Federated Mountain Clubs

    • David H 1.1

      Oh look a Troll with a fancy title

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        My understanding is that FMC officers are democratically elected and represent over 15,000 paid up members nationwide.

        Given that, its easy to see who has more credibility here, David H (hint: it’s not you).

  2. Peter 2

    Oh, and I should add, the biggest issue here is that the Ministry for the Environment, regional councils, and a few other places, seem to have an inherent dislike of collaborative processes, largely from a patch-protection mentality. That’s where the opposition to this is coming from. The MfE and ECan couldn’t get a solution, or even attempt to get a solution on the Mackenzie, and now two collaboratively developed solutions have been written (one on water, the other on land/development) and they may fear for their relevance.

    • bbfloyd 2.1

      And Now…. For something…. Completely different…………(flam/cymbol crash)…!

  3. bad12 3

    Ah another ‘slushy’, you have to wonder if there is a % kickback going on here, either directly or into the Party campaign coffers,

    Or does the payback rely upon the Party’s ongoing dominance in society where the ‘scratch of the back’ for Nick comes at some point further down the track when Nick is no longer a politician and therefor subject to far less scrutiny,

    This is simply ‘corruption 101’, nothing is written down and no ‘visible’ transfer of capital take place, Arab money launderers do this extremely well, billions of dollars can transit borders through this system which requires a money man on each end willing to ‘put up’ the required amount of cash knowing that at some time in the future the same transaction will occur in the opposite direction…

    • mike e 3.1

      Nick lizard eyes Smith will get a board job at a major bank no worries he’s done his crony jobs E.can, Hatchet job on ACC the philanderer has subjected Sex abuse victims to another round of abuse tanks to his meddling!

  4. lostinsuburbia 4

    I’ve mentioned in other discussions but can it be coincidence that this has come out a couple of days after Auckland Council announced that Salmon was leading its review of alternative transport funding options. Perhaps the Nats are set on devouring themselves again in an attempt to hammer Smith (not that he doesn’t deserve it) and take a swipe at the Council?

  5. tracey 5

    Or further efforts in the fight of joyce vs brown

  6. Ruth 6

    I struggle to understand what the story is here exactly, is Labour just trying to deal to Nick Smith to make sure he doesn’t come back, do they really think Amy Adams is likely to be any better? In my view if as Peter says Guy Salmon was able to facilitate a shared agreement between Feds, conservationists and others to agree to stop destroying such an amazing landscape as the Mackenzie then all power to him.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Housing report earns Nats the red card
    National’s failure to acknowledge and fix the housing crisis will be their legacy. Labour will tackle the housing crisis head-on, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    5 days ago
  • Sluggish growth reflects nine years of drift from National
    Today’s GDP figures reflect an economy that the National Government has allowed to drift along on the basis of growing population rather than improving productivity and adding value, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “It is important to recognise that ...
    5 days ago
  • National’s campaign of deception an affront to democracy
    Voters this week have a clear choice between Labour’s optimism and honesty, or rewarding National’s campaign of relentless lies, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Day after day National has been deliberately spreading lies about Labour, our intentions and what ...
    6 days ago
  • National’s economy scorecard: D for drift
    New Zealand’s economy is failing the very people it is supposed to uplift, characterised by stalled productivity, exports going backwards and a Government content to let it drift, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Voters have a clear choice ...
    6 days ago
  • Another day – another health crisis
    News today that the emergency department at Waikato has turned 180 patients away is another crisis for the Government and its besieged health system, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “It’s astonishing that the Government has had to rely on ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour will get tough on loan sharks
      Labour will take a tough stance on loan sharks and make sure that the Commerce Commission is properly resourced to protect Kiwi consumers, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson Michael Wood.   “People on low incomes must be protected from ...
    6 days ago
  • GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
      A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “The ...
    7 days ago
  • GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
      A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “The ...
    7 days ago
  • Tax cuts when kids go hungry shows National’s lack of moral compass
    National’s campaign of tax cuts that give $400 million to the top 10 per cent of earners, at a time when 120 Kiwi kids every year are being hospitalised for malnutrition, shows they have lost their moral compass, says Labour’s ...
    7 days ago
  • Freight being shifted off planes as fuel crisis worsens
    Export freight is being shifted off flights because of the Government’s failure to manage the risk of disruption to jet fuel supplies, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson Stuart Nash. “It has been revealed to Labour that non-perishable export freight is ...
    7 days ago
  • Apologise now Jonathan
    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman must apologise for his part in a $2.3 billion shortfall that has contributed to delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “All the Minister could say in an interview this morning ...
    7 days ago
  • National’s health report card shows need for new plan
    From increased GP fees, to kids getting sick from cold homes, to denial of important surgeries, National’s underfunding of health has hurt Kiwi families, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.   “It’s time to invest in the health of ...
    7 days ago
  • Eye clinic wait downright dangerous
    The fact that 9,500 Kiwis are waiting one and a half times longer than they should to get follow-up eye appointments is unacceptable and dangerous, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “These people are entitled to the reassurance that if ...
    7 days ago
  • National has serious questions to answer over Auckland fuel crisis
    Thousands of air travellers looking for answers to Auckland Airport’s fuel crisis should be demanding the National Government come clean over its failure to secure fuel supply for the airport, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “There are serious questions the ...
    1 week ago
  • Come clean on trade before the election
    In the two days before the election, New Zealand MFAT negotiators will attend a negotiations meeting in Japan on the successor to the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), now called the TPP-11. The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy but we ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    1 week ago
  • National unravels on transport
    The release of extraordinary information showing that the East-West link could be the most expensive road in the world, at $327 million per kilometre, shows that National is fiscally reckless and out of ideas on transport, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson ...
    1 week ago
  • Saudi cover-up a perversion of democracy
    The Government has been exposed as dishonest after it was revealed that  they were wrong to claim they paid out $11 million dollars to a Saudi businessmen after legal advice, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Parker.  “OIAs revealed on ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour supporting Te Reo Māori in schools
    Labour will support a future where New Zealanders from every background will have the ability to use Te Reo Māori in everyday conversations, says Labour’s Deputy Leader and Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “Labour will commit to a target that ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National planning a secret fuel tax?
    Sources suggest National is considering a secret fuel tax to fund its controversial Roads of National Significance (RONS) programme, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood. “While the Government keeps up its stream of lies about Labour’s tax policy, sources indicate ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s plan for West Coast prosperity
    Labour’s regional development plan for the West Coast will build on its strengths in engineering and tourism, while delivering a much-needed upgrade to the Buller Hospital, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “Labour’s vision is for a thriving regional New Zealand, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour committed to fair and progressive tax system
    Labour is committed to a tax system where everyone pays their fair share and where we start to address the imbalances that have fuelled the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson and Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. "Today ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A challenge to Bill English
    ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flavell’s fake news an insult to Māori voters
    A desperate Te Ururoa Flavell has resorted to fake news about Labour’s position on his unpopular Ture Whenua reforms, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s tax cuts reckless and irresponsible
    It is time for Bill English and Steven Joyce to stop the scaremongering and lies, and front up to New Zealanders about the impact of their tax cuts, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Bill English has no credibility on ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Calculator shows Labour’s Families Package delivers
    Labour has launched a new online calculator that show how much extra families with kids will get from Labour’s Families Package, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Families can go to www.labour.org.nz/calculator and see how much better off they ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Strengthening New Zealand’s identity through Labour’s media and film policy
    Labour has today launched its media and film policy aimed at strengthening New Zealand’s identity and providing sustainability for the industry, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to invest in parents and babies
    Labour will fund an additional 100 Plunket and Tamariki Ora nurses to increase the help available for vulnerable parents and babies, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “It’s so important that our children get the best start in life. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to build affordable homes and state houses in Hawke’s Bay
    Labour will build a mix of 240 affordable KiwiBuild starter homes for first home buyers and state homes for families in need in Napier and Hastings, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “In 2016, the populations of Napier and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour pledges more for Whānau Ora
    Labour will strengthen the oversight of Whānau Ora and provide an extra $20 million over four years to improve outcomes for whānau and families, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis.    “We’ve created a new position of Whānau Ora Reviewer ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s housing band aid
    Throwing subsidies at an under-supplied housing market is one last desperate bid by National to be seen to do something about the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “First home buyers have been the collateral damage of National’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing, families, education and environment top priorities in Labour’s first 100 days
    Labour will take urgent action in its first 100 days in office to expand support for families and students, make rental homes warm and dry, find solutions to the mental health crisis and accelerate efforts to clean up our waterways, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour pledges to unlock funding for Te Hiku sports hub project
    The Labour Government will inject nearly $3 million into the Te Hiku Sports Hub project, to help realise a much-needed health and recreational facility for the Far North, says Labour Deputy Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s plan to get job seekers into better work
    Labour will provide real support for people looking for work by increasing the amount of money someone can earn before their benefit begins to reduce, reinstating training incentives, and putting a renewed focus on upskilling and training, says Labour’s Social ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour sets strong target and plan for climate action
    Labour will set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and take the necessary steps to achieve it, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “Climate change is my generation’s nuclear-free moment. We have to take our place ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Are education cuts missing in National’s Fiscal Plan?
    National needs to explain why its plans for cuts to school transport have not been announced in its fiscal plan, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.   “Buried in the Pre-election Budget update is a $5m a year cut to ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce must come clean on Health and Education funding
    Steven Joyce needs to front up to New Zealanders and tell them whether he will fund health and education to meet increasing cost pressures, or risk seeing services cut and costs increase for parents, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis is National’s legacy
    Reports of tenants languishing in boarding houses for years because they cannot get a state house is yet more evidence National’s legacy is the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We used to pride ourselves in this country ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour calls for release of report into civil defence flaws
    The National Government must stick by its word given to other political parties and release a technical report before the election addressing critical flaws in New Zealand’s civil defence capability, Labour Civil Defence spokesperson Clare Curran said today.  “Cross party ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Credibility shot as Government runs out of steam
    New Zealanders are witnessing the desperation of a government clinging to survival, evidenced by policy on-the-hoof, dodgy maths and dirty politics, says Labour MP Phil Twyford. “New Zealand had been hoping we’d seen the end of dirty politics, but what ...
    3 weeks ago