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Sharples a scapegoat for Nats’ bumbling schemers

Written By: - Date published: 2:19 pm, October 17th, 2009 - 10 comments
Categories: john key, maori party, Media, national/act government - Tags: ,

sharples and keyIf we’re to believe National’s version of events, Pita Sharples kept secret from his colleagues that he was going to take $3 million from a contestable Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) fund meant for job initiatives and give it to Maori TV (MTS) to subsidise their World Cup bid. When it became a big story Sharples apologised to John Key for not telling him about it earlier, saying it was a mistake from a junior minister, and Key said he would be ‘comfortable’ with MTS getting the rights.

Then, Jonathan Coleman, also without higher approval, decided to back a counter-bid by TVNZ and TV3. Just when it was getting farcical, in rode John Key on a white steed and cut the Gordian Knot into which his ministers had tangled themselves by having a taxpayer subsidise all the channels in a joint bid, leading Young to gush “John Key has just shown why he is Prime Minister.”

Nice story. But it’s a load of crap as revealed by a timeline of events leaked (presumably by Sharples or te Heuheu or Comar) to Tracey Watkins and reproduced in today’s Dom (not online, apparently stuff is still living in 1998), Audrey Young’s timeline, along with other public information:

  • May 19: First meeting with TPK and MTS on World Cup bid using TPK money
  • June 15: Sharples and Maori Affairs Associate Minister Georgina te Heuheu (who has responsibility for MTS) briefed by MTS on proposed bid backed with TPK cash.
  • June 17: Sharples and te Heuheu meet with TPK head Leith Comar and discuss the proposed bid.
  • June 23: Sharples discusses propoasl with Bill English
  • Late August: TPK briefs Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully on coming bid.
  • September 2: te Heuheu writes to English and Key informing them of the bid. Key read the letter but doesn’t recall exactly when. So, by the start of September all the major players know about the MTS bid.
  • September 23: English, te Heuheu, Coleman, and Gerry Brownlee (McCully’s associate) meet to discuss the bid. Key is off being the jester on an adulterer’s variety show at the time. The ministers are unwilling to kill the bid without Key’s say so because of the risk of damaging the relationship with the Maori Party but are unhappy of the misuse of TPK funds (something ministers would later purport to be OK about).
  • September 28: Meeting of English and McCully with TPK officials at English’s office. According to Derek Fox, English just sat there and McCully ranted and raved at Comar.
  • October 2: MTS bid and TPK backing become public. National ministers decide to support a joint TVNZ-TV3 bid to beat MTS bid
  • October 5: Key backs MTS bid as long as its coverage must reach all New Zealanders
  • October 8: Sharples apologises to Key for not properly consulting with him and his ministerial colleagues before backing MTS bid
  • October 9: Sharples provides commericially sensitive breifing paper on the MTS bid to Key. English leaves phone message advising Sharples informing him of government-backed the TVNZ-TV3 bid
  • October 13: Following Cabinet on the 12th, when all these issues were certainly discussed (and Sharples wasn’t present), Coleman announces the government will be backing TVNZ-TV3 bid the against government-backed MTS bid.
  • October 14: All bids withdrawn. Joint MTS-TVNZ-TV3 bid being worked on.

What’s now clear is that senior ministers knew about this whole issue for a long time and the only surprise for them was when MTS’s bid became public on the 2nd. Their response was to blame everything on brownie. National’s ministers pretended they knew nothing. They got Sharples to apologise for not informing them even though he had and didn’t tell him for a week that they were going to launch a counter-bid. They even got him to hand over the information on the MTS bid they needed to beat it (talk about mana-enhancing, they’ll be calling him Pita Pononga soon).

Meanwhile, Key spent a week pretending he was OK with an MTS bid, repeatedly stating on TV and in other media that as long as there was coverage it was OK and also making statements that humiliated Sharples. All the time, Key knew he was going to kill the MTS bid with the counter-bid.

Then when he did launch the counter-bid, MTS and Sharples didn’t back down as National had expected. The thing was develpoing into such a mess that Key had a panic response of getting all the channels together in a single bid and promising them taxpayer money (presumably supplied by those pixies at the bottom of the garden).

Watkins says that Labour has been soft in calling this a shambles. She’s right. This is a shabby, dishonest affair and this government must now be considered the least incompetent and the most internally fractured since the dying days of the previous National government. The upshot is there remains no channel with the free-to-air rights, but whoever does get it, you and I will be subsidising them.

10 comments on “Sharples a scapegoat for Nats’ bumbling schemers ”

  1. Ianmac 1

    Are not Ministers guilty of Misleading the House by their denials of knowledge? In a Court isn’t that called perjury?

    • starboard 1.1

      ..does that include Labour Ministers?

      • Armchair Critic 1.1.1

        Ahh, the “Labour did it too” argument. Let’s not even go there. In case you haven’t noticed it is 2009 and the ministers of the crown are from the National, ACT, Maori and Peter Dunne party. There are no Labour ministers, so the answer to your question would be “no”.

  2. Quoth the Raven 2

    I would consider this government quite incompetent rather than the “least incompetent” 🙂

  3. Ron 3

    Sharples may be the scapegoat but he’s standing there sucking it up like a prat. He just looks weak in this whole thing..
    If he had any guts he’d have released all this info as soon as Coleman announced the TV3TVNZ bid and made the Nats squirm.
    I my opinion he’ missed a chance to get the upper hand with NACT..

    • Ianmac 3.1

      As opposed to the Act play over the need to privatise ACC. They will support the ACC Bill as long as……. And Nat will grudgingly agree to what they planned to do re privatisation anyway……
      You see Pete. That’s called brinkmanship!

    • Jim McDonald 3.2

      Sharples’ taxpayer-sponsored hui with Mongrel Mob & Black Power gangs seems to put him on shaky grounds (3:32pm NewstalkZB/TVOne: http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/sharples-defends-gang-leaders-hui-3081118).

      And looks like co-leader Turia came to Sharples’ rescue by trying to bump it off with her 2-week premature pre-Cabinet discussion about the Foreshore & Seabed legislation (6:04pm NZPA: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2976210/Decision-on-foreshore-law-soon).

      Let’s see how the media cover the news tomorrow. Wonder what JK is thinking about all these. Wottachoice! Nats can take a break for a couple of days while these two issues fill up the airwaves and newspapers. ….. More time to work on The Plan for Recovery (if these shenanigans go long enough, there’ll be time to keep The Plan for another recession!).

  4. Ron 4

    If we just get the lies exposed we can break this Govt over the ACC lies. We just have to get the news media to report it……….hmmmm…..fat chance.

    • Herodotus 4.1

      As mentioned many times before Govts lose elections Opposition don’t win. 12 months is not long enough for current voters to forget what was delivered previously. If Labour 08 was tired what has happen to Labour 09 brand?
      The honeymoon may be closer to at the end of its time, BUT it is still in the honeymoon period, that GUSH feeling is still there, and John Key brand has not been tarnished. The King is still the King, there may be a few more jesters at the court.

      • Galeandra 4.1.1

        Rubbish. Metaphors as analogies illustrate your views but don’t prove anything.
        Outside of the paid opinionating hacks, there is no honeymoon.
        Incompetence is incompetence. Praising Key for sorting YET ANOTHER. stuff up to add to ..ETS/ACC/education cuts/rising joblessness/housing rorts/mining in conservation land???? It’s an avalanche.

        A lot of us are starting to recognize the Textor inspired b.s. that we sucked up with our weetbix and to more than wonder. People I work with are angry more than cynical and very worried. There are real storms out there, and we have a ship being manned by a bunch of uncoordinated opinionated fatheads.
        At a time like this it could be argued we actually need cross party cooperation and consensus. Some hope.

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