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On the news value of questioning Ministers’ shares

Written By: - Date published: 2:58 pm, February 24th, 2010 - 39 comments
Categories: Conservation, corruption, Mining, news - Tags: ,

A certain National Party pollster who has been getting untendered polling contracts from government departments on the same issue for which he is polling for National and its friends is having a cry over the story I ran yesterday on Murray McCully’s shares in Widespread Portfolios. The story got widespread media coverage and I can see why that’s a little upsetting for him, but let’s look at the news value of the post:

  • Does Murrary McCully have shares in Widespread Portfolios, a company with NZ mining interests? Yes
  • Is he a member of the Cabinet that has been dealing with mining issues? Yes
  • Will he be the one deciding whether Widespread’s subsidiary gets a permit for seamining (I just discovered this today)? Yes
  • Is there, prima facie, a conflict of interest? Yes
  • Did that conflict turn out to be trivial? Yes
  • Was it wrong to raise the questions? No
  • Are there still serious unanswered questions about what more sizeable shareholdings McCully and other ministers have hidden away in their trusts? Yes

Farrar’s argument basically adds up to whining that I should be using my full name and shouldn’t have made one of the post’s categories ‘corruption’. It’s a poor attempt to distract from the issues, and the squealing about ‘anonymous smears’ is especially rich coming from someone with his record.

39 comments on “On the news value of questioning Ministers’ shares ”

  1. Gosman 1

    David Farrar’s point is not what you claim but nice try at spin there.

    • Smokie 1.1

      Farrar’s point is nothing more than part of the overall National Party strategy to attempt discredit any real opposition. It’s actually a reasonable strategy. Problem is, I don’t think it will work as well for him as it did when National was in opposition.

      • Gosman 1.1.1

        Do have you got examples of how this supposed tactic worked for them when they were in opposition?

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      Coming to DPFs rescue – ain’t that nice.

  2. gitmo 2

    I followed the link to Kiwiblog only to be reminded of that shithole Winnie Peters …… now there was a rorter with conflicts of interest that would make the current lot look like babes in the woods.

    Oh and are you trying to point out that Farrar is partisan .. I think he’d be the first to admit that.

    As for McCully’s fish and chips worth of shares, FFS haven’t you got something better to throw at the government than that kind of tat, as usual it’s just two partisan sites claiming that their side is better than the other……. newsflash most of them are frontbums independent of which side of the house they sit on.

  3. kaplan 3

    DPF sure devoted a whole lot of text to his little cry. If it’s such a non-issue, as he claims, then you do have to wonder why he has his panties up in such a tight wee bunch over it…

    • Gosman 3.1

      A variation of infantile logic that because someone has bothered to respond to your ridiculous asertions that must mean there must be something behind them.

      So does that mean because he didn’t respond to the personal attack on his work for the DIA it means those alegations were untrue?

      I wonder what the answer to that question will be?

      • Lew 3.1.1

        That David has responded to it in such a manner tells us nothing about the veracity of the story, but plenty about its potential to damage the government regardless of whether it’s credible or not.

        The DIA polling story was weak on both those criteria, and beneath contempt as a consequence. This one is not.

        L

        • Clarke 3.1.1.1

          …. and it’s hard to imagine that DPF would have let it slide as “inconsequential” if it was a Labour Minister in the same circumstances.

          • Lew 3.1.1.1.1

            Yes. He would have been a fool to do so, given that the value of the shareholding was undisclosed. So would Eddie. That’s Eddie’s point.

            L

        • Gosman 3.1.1.2

          Wow!!! So you think the DIA story is weak. I wonder if anyone else agrees with you here?

          • Clarke 3.1.1.2.1

            Yes, the DIA polling story is weak. DPF is providing a service in a conventional commercial environment and the amount is under the $10K limit. Forcing all providers through a full RFP/tender process for such a small amount of money would be a bigger story, IMHO.

  4. greenfly 4

    It’s Farrar’s job to counter any hint that National is corrupt – you can hardly blame him for doing as he is bid.
    Harder to pin down is where he doesn’t mention these things at all, in order to befuddle his own tribe. That they can’t see it is both funny and frustrating.

    • Gosman 4.1

      So is your asertion is that he is paid directly, or even indirectly, to blog by the National Party?

      I hope you have some sort of evidence for this or is it just some sort of superpower like intuition you posess?

      • felix 4.1.1

        Didn’t you learn anything last week Gosman?

      • mickysavage 4.1.2

        Gossman he has to be paid to blog.

        It is really time consuming. He is obviously on top of issues quickly and trots out the Nat attack lines that subsequently appear in the MSM.

        I try to blog and in a good week may get two posts up. DPF gets a number posted each day as well as checking the comments.

        Any proof he is not paid?

        • lprent 4.1.2.1

          You can do better with comments if (like I am) you’re around computers linked to the net every day.

          But writing posts with some substance (ie not cut-paste-indeed) is a hell of a lot harder and more time consuming than comments. I usually get a few posts up during the week, and quite often write posts on the weekend. But to do so I sacrifice considerable time for other things. Instead of reading several books a day which was my usual free-hours past-time, I’m down to reading a book over several days. It is good in one respect. It has reduced my book-buying costs considerably.

  5. greenfly 5

    kaplan – why is it, I wonder, that the ‘wee bunched panties’ image you invoked seems so apt?

    I’ve never, ever wondered what Farrar hauls on before his trousers in the morning, til now …

  6. BLiP 6

    Why am I not surprised he has to point out “sarcasm” to the turds in his sewer?

  7. slightlyrighty 7

    The issue that Farrer brought to attention is the differing response to conflict of interest by your blogsite.

    The trumpeting of McCully’s $31 shareholding pales into insignificance when compared with the money-go-round that Winnie ran as Racing Minister, yet this site seemed to be able to satisfy itself that no real harm was done there.

    • BLiP 7.1

      Hi Gus.

    • Eddie 7.2

      The Standard has no view on Peters, though individual authors do. If Farrar wants to dredge up comments from one or two other authors from two years ago then he’s welcome, but I’m not sure how it helps his argument. Frankly I’m not sure what Farrar’s main point was at all, the guy was all over the place.

  8. Armchair Critic 8

    Agree with most of the post Eddie. I don’t agree that the conflict of interest is trivial; there is no such thing. Conflicts of interest exist, or they don’t. Like being a virgin – you are or you aren’t, there is no middle ground.
    The suggestion that the shares could be transferred to Key’s son shows a poor understanding of what a conflict of interest is. If the shares were transferred, then Key would have to avoid taking part in any decisions on mining due to his conflict of interest.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10628128
    Much more should be expected of McCully and all his years of experience. In fact, he has just demonstrated why he should not be given any appointments to boards of directors once he retires as an MP.
    The State Services Commission has a definition of what constitutes a conflict of interest on its website.
    http://www.ssc.govt.nz/display/document.asp?docid=4896&pageno=1#P4_0
    I can’t help but think it is time for McCully to do the honourable thing. Not only because of the conflict of interest, but also for the poor management of it and his demonstrated poor knowledge of what a conflict of interest is.

  9. I agree with AC

    A conflict is a conflict. Either there are black and white rules or we have continuous attempts to push the boundaries.

    Ask Phil Heatley if he thinks there should be hard and fast rules.

  10. RedLogix 10

    I’m not sure if anyone has pointed this out, but the whole point of ‘penny-dreadful’ shares like this, especially mining ones, is that in the event that are valuable discover is made, or licence granted, they can increase in value by orders of magnitude. What was $31 this week could be worth a lot more than that next.

    But even this is not a strong argument; I’m just baffled that an experienced operator like McCully should be so careless as to risk his position by failing to deal with these shares effectively. Why own them at all if they are worth so little?

    • Armchair Critic 10.1

      “…the whole point of ‘penny-dreadful’ shares like this, especially mining ones, is that in the event that are valuable discover is made, or licence granted, they can increase in value by orders of magnitude…”
      Too bloody right. Which makes McCully’s admission that he hadn’t looked at them since 2007 or 2008 even worse. It is untenable to claim the conflict of interest is trivial (and that’s assuming a conflict of interest can be trivial – my view is it can not be) if he didn’t know the value of the shares? Sloppy, and certainly not good enough for a senior minister.

  11. tc 11

    what a fascinating thread…..so much time spent defending poor DPF rather than addressing the actual issue……great to see the nat spin machine in full flight.

    AC nails it…..value’s irrelevant especially as shares in $2 capital type exploration entities are 100% speculative and punters back the value skyrocketing on discovery of minerals and cashing in.

    Anyone involved directly/indirectly in the granting of exploration liceneces in areas known to have deposits raises insider trading issues…..basic stuff.

    So the ‘greater accountability and transaparency’ JK bleated on about goes to the core of this issue…..but then the Nat definition of Sloppy appears to be ‘shit we got caught’

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