NRT: “Close to corruption”

Written By: - Date published: 2:32 pm, February 13th, 2015 - 29 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, business - Tags: , , , ,

I/S at No Right Turn adds some detail to Matthew Hooton’s extraordinary piece at the NBR.


“Close to corruption”

That’s Matthew Hooten’s view of National’s dodgy Sky City deal:

The procurement process for the Auckland centre was a farce and as close to corruption as we ever see in New Zealand.

As reported by the Deputy Auditor-General, Mr Eagleson – whose best friend and Las Vegas gambling buddy is Mark Unsworth, SkyCity’s Wellington lobbyist – had been conducting private talks with SkyCity through 2009 and early 2010, including about what regulatory relief SkyCity wanted.

Mr Eagleson argued a procurement process was unnecessary and that the government should just go with SkyCity on the grounds no one else could realistically compete.

Unmentioned: Sky’s past donations to the National party. Which may well have continued in secret – National raised the donation disclosure threshold by 50% to further shield big donors (and the influence they were buying) from public scrutiny.

If this sort of procurement process happened overseas – in Australia, say – we would have no qualms calling it corrupt. We should apply the same standard in New Zealand. As for the remedy, the deal should be cancelled and Sky City stripped of the gambling concessions National obligingly passed and the land it sold them under false pretences. After which, if we think a convention centre is worth having (rather than a game better won by not playing), it can be re-tendered on a level playing field so the public can actually get value for money, rather than a corrupt stitch-up which benefits National’s mates. Sadly, as Key has invested his political capital (and who knows how much of his private fortune) in this deal, I think the chances of that happening are approximately nil.

29 comments on “NRT: “Close to corruption””

  1. logie97 1

    Blind Trusts
    After the 2008 election, we understand that several government politicians had to move their trusts investment portfolios into blind trusts.
    That was apparently to prevent them from seeing what their shareholdings were doing.
    Can someone explain how this set-up works and how we know that nods and winks and coffee-break-cups-of-tea moments are not used to buy/sell at opportune moments?

    • mickysavage 1.1

      I have a certain amount of knowledge of trusts 😀

      Essentially a “blind trust” is one controlled by independent trustees who are duty bound not to tell the beneficiaries what the trust owns or what it is doing.

      I had a bit of a stab in the dark about Key’s trust in this post five years ago http://waitakerenews.blogspot.co.nz/2010/05/can-you-trust-john-key.html?q=blind+trust

    • tc 1.2

      Blind as far as joe public is concerned but it fails the reasonable believable test by a farking mile IMO.

      Would someone entrusting their private wealth to a third party have absolutely no knowledge of the transactions being undertaken on their behalf.

      Then there’s the passing of information to the trustee along the lines of…’ I’m told that SCF bonds are a good buy as their current situation may improve….’ etc

  2. greywarshark 2

    That certainly puts the Hooton spotlight on the rabbits. The only thing I question is the loose way he refers to “Wellington” when he is talking about Government decisions from the Beehive. Wellington city hasn’t been engaged in talking up convention centres and casinos has it?

    The cost to other tenderers of preparing detailed tenders for their version of a Convention Centre would not be small. It would appear that they have been played like a rising game fish by the National Government and would perhaps be legally correct in claiming bad faith and fraud even, and demanding payment of their costs for such work as they were obliged to do.

    And why was the original design right at the acceptance stage, but is now an eyesore? It makes all of us have sore eyes looking at the extra millions that the Nats can suggest is fine for this. But puzzling why it can’t be there to provide adequate transport for moving the country’s production, or only for autobahns for BMWs but not roads better than colonial dirt tracks for 21st century vehicles in the Far North.

  3. Skinny 3

    After just hearing Hooton spining his web of deceit on National cheerleader Duccan Garners drive time show, it would be nice if Hooton would confirm there is no conflict of interest. Since in his humble opinion the deal should be scrapped with SkyCity and opened up for re-tender, noting that he suggested a waterfront venue. Which just happens to be where an unsuccessful iwi group proposed. This would fit with his anti reclamation lobbying out into the harbour.

    What one has to realise is these snake oil merchant’s are always out for themselves first and foremost, in a true neo liberal idealodgical sense. Knowing Garner well enough I know when he is skeptical, and he certainly was unconvinced of Hooton’s stuttering performance.

  4. alwyn 4

    **** This is meant to be an answer to Greywarshark at 2 above. I’m not sure quite what happened to the reply attempt ****

    “Wellington city hasn’t been engaged in talking up convention centres and casinos has it?” you ask.

    Casinos no, but our crazy council, with it’s Green Mayor, wants to get a Convention Centre. The idea was that it would be built as part of a Hilton Hotel about opposite Te Papa. The council was going to lease it for $4 million/year and then try and arrange conventions there.
    Even the most enthusiastic claims of the Mayor didn’t envisage getting in more than $2.5 million/year.

    Once the Mayor had announced that it was critical to the future of Wellington the developer announced that the site wasn’t suitable and that it had to go on the waterfront. Watch the council go along with him. After all she is on record as claiming it to be a wonderful, and essential object.
    Bloody politicians. They shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near business. Rant, rant rave, rave etc.

    There is a bit about it here
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/64406632/100m-Hilton-project-back-to-drawing-board

  5. tracey 5

    eagleson is nothing to do with wayne in PMs office

  6. b waghorn 6

    Good on Mr Hooton there’s hope for you yet old chap,!

  7. Murray Rawshark 7

    Close to corruption? My Brazilian wife can see what’s happening. She recognises it. Why can’t Kiwis. It is bloody corruption. We have a corrupt government. To some extent, we have had corrupt governments as long as I can remember, but this lot have really pushed the boundaries.

    • tc 7.1

      Corruption voted back in by a selfish middle NZ who see themselves as beneficiaries of the behaviour and either refuse to look ahead or can’t with an atitude of predictable kiwi apathy.

      Been that way for decades, win them and you get to govern.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      Many of us can see it but seemingly the majority still don’t believe it when we tell them.

  8. de Withiel 8

    Brilliant analysis of Keith Holyoke’s ‘proudest achievement’, his corrupt and illegal development of Kinloch on Lake Taupo in Paul Hamer’s ‘Kiwi Keith and Kinloch’, New Zealand Journal of History, 44:2 (2010), 157-173 [http://www.nzjh.auckland.ac.nz/document?wid=1800&page=0&action=searchresult&target=]. National governments do default corruption; it has gotten worse under Key.

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