Two weeks ago, Labour’s Clare Curran asked Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss whether he had received any advice or reports about Stephen McElrea’s potential conflict of interest between his role as John Key’s electorate chair and his role as a board member of New Zealand on Air. Foss replied with a single word: “None”. Today, we find out that that was incorrect, when Tony Ryall was forced to admit on Foss’s behalf that he had received an email on 18 January from the chair of the New Zealand On Air board, Neil Walter,
which devote[d] several paragraphs to addressing conflict of interest matters of “one particular member of the board”
Foss’s original denial was in answer to a primary question, on notice. That is “a situation of some formality”. Lying in response is misleading the House, a serious Contempt. The question now is whether he will be dragged before the Privileges Committee, or whether the Speaker will allow Ministers to lie with impunity to primary questions in Question Time.