The company they keep

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, June 7th, 2010 - 36 comments
Categories: national - Tags:

The Herald on Sunday had a story about John Key’s Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson’s holiday (yup, after 4 or five weeks off at New Year’s the Nats are taking another couple of weeks away) with a couple of Tory lobbyists and, oddly, the boss of NZ Post. It’s pretty much your cliche of middle-aged rich guys – helicopters, shooting AKs, 8 hours of shopping (bit metro?), gambling thousands at casinos, restaurants where a meal costs the average family’s weekly income.

Well, if that’s the kind of thing that gets you off, good for you. I prefer spending some time in the bush personally. But the story is an interesting insight into how close National is with lobbyists representing some very rightwing interests.

Eagleson is a key member of the National team. He is described as more powerful than any minister, a bit like Heather Simpson. So who he spends his time with is very enlightening.

Mark Unsworth heads rightwing lobbyist outfit Saunders Unsworth. Roger Sowry, former Deputy Leader of National, works for him.

Here are some of Unsworth’s self-reported achievements:

  • Retention of the Casino regulatory regime in the face of several populist assaults launched by interest groups and politicians.
  • Influencing the Government’s Climate Change policies and negotiating Greenhouse Agreements with the Government to exempt clients from the carbon tax.
  • Retaining, on behalf of the Association of NZ Advertisers, the right of pharmaceutical companies to advertise prescription medicines directly to consumers, which the Labour government and many in the medical profession wanted banned.

Interestingly, Unsworth Saunders haven’t updated their list of achievements on their website since National came to power. You’ve got to wonder who they’re representing and what ‘successes’ they’ve achieved in the last year or so considering the level of access they have to the government.

In Canada, lobbyists have to be registered, they have to disclose who they’re lobbying for and how, and provide information on things like any donations they give to politicians. Perhaps that would be a good move here, in the interests of transparent government.

Eagleson isn’t doing anything wrong by going on holiday with rightwing lobbyists but there are parallels with Key’s Highwater-gate. Eagleson doesn’t have the apparent conflicts of interest that Key has (more on that later) but both incidents give us an insight into the company that National keeps and the interests they really represent.

36 comments on “The company they keep”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    Im sure the ‘lobbyists’ act as a conduit for the money, so that donations from company to party are laundered by going through their hands. Telecom spent an ‘extra’ million during election year on donations yet not a cent showed up under their name in the register.

  2. comedy 2

    “Mark Unsworth heads rightwing lobbyist outfit Saunders Unsworth”

    Along with Barrie Saunders ……’He was also Press Secretary to the Labour Party Leader 1976-79, Public Relations Manager NZ Manufacturers Federation 1979-83, Meat Producers Board Group Manager Public Relations 1983-86 and North American Director for the Board based in New York, 1986-90. ‘

    Somehow I don’t think they give a crap whether their income comes from what you would consider leftwing or rightwing groups (within reason) – the last time I went to one of their booze ups there was certainly a mix of politicians of all ilks gorging and gargling.

    • Marty G 2.1

      The kind of people who don’t give a crap where their income comes from are rightwingers

      • comedy 2.1.1

        All the Labour MPs are rightwingers … OK if you say so

        • Marty G

          um. the Labour MPs are paid by the taxpayer.

          • comedy

            Your point ?

            • Marty G

              what’s your point?

              • comedy

                That they don’t give a crap where their money comes from.

                • For Christ’s sake comedy

                  Where do you come from?

                  As an example David Cunliffe was probably earning $450k from the Boston Consultancy Group when he became the Labour MP for New Lynn in 1999.

                  He has had a major wage cut for the pleasure of being a Labour MP.

                  So I think that he gives a crap where his money comes from, although maybe he does not give a crap and is instead interested in making a difference.

                  • comedy

                    For Christ’s sake Mickey john Key was making gazillions but took a major pay cut to become an MP …………….. oh but that’s right it’s different because he doesn’t play on your team.

                    Welcome to partisan politics – the reason nothing will change in NZ’s parliamentary trough.

                    • Marty G

                      Who said Key didn’t take a pay cut?

                    • comedy

                      “The kind of people who don’t give a crap where their income comes from are rightwingers”

                      Do parliamentarians care about where their incomes come from or not ? I suspect only in as much as they get themselves voted in to a set around the trough.

                      Deluded fucks like yourself are so busy playing “my side’s good your side’s evil” that nothing will ever change why not be a bit more honest like NRT and call it on it’s merits regardless which team it comes from.

            • felix

              Hi hs.

              The point is that Marty called the lobbyists right-wingers on the basis that they (according to you) don’t care where their money comes from.

              In order for you to draw the parallel to which you’re alluding you would need to show that the Labour MPs also don’t care where their money comes from.

              This may be true for all I know but you haven’t shown it and nothing Marty said implies what you’re suggesting it does.

              btw, why did you change your name again? Lynn revoked your ban while you were calling yourself “frustrated” didn’t he?

              • comedy

                “The kind of people who don’t give a crap where their income comes from are rightwingers”

                btw are you retarded ?

  3. tsmithfield 3

    “Eagleson isn’t doing anything wrong by going on holiday with rightwing lobbyists”

    So what is the point of the rest of the baseless speculation in your article then?

    • Marty G 3.1

      it exposes the ties between the Nats and rightwing lobbyists. That’s why the Nats are embarrassed about it. Don’t cry son.

      • tsmithfield 3.1.1

        So what. There is a much cosier relationship between Labour and their biggest lobbyists the unions. I don’t see you writing too many articles about that though.

        • felix

          Glad you can see the equivalence, and for once I agree with you.

          • tsmithfield

            I guess there’s a first for everything. 🙂

            • felix

              Of course Labour has no reason to hide their ties with the unions – they’re supposed to be advancing the cause of the workers, right?

              • tsmithfield

                I suppose so. On the other hand, National is supposed to advance business interests, so by the same argument there should be no problem with them associating with business people. Agreed?.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Actually, the problem is socialising with the lobbyists. Doing so tends to bring in personal feelings of favouritism which tends to bias the decision making process.

                  • tsmithfield

                    So you would accept that Labour also socialises with lobbyists (the unions). This association is serving to advance the cause of some workers (union members) over others (non union members). Is this right?

                • Marty G

                  As long as we’re agreed that National is pushing the interests of the business elite, just as Labour pushes the interests of the workers.

                  You’ll be surprised how often that simple truth is opposed by people.

                  The whole point of this post is that it shows who is influencing National.

                • felix


                  Absolutely agreed, National is more concerned with advancing the interests of the owners of capital and Labour is more concerned with advancing the interests of workers.

                  Good to see you acknowledge it. I have no issue with National primarily representing those interests – my issue is with them pretending they don’t.

                  As for your other comment, gains made by unions are shared by all workers so it’s not correct to say that unions are only serving the interests of members.

        • really

          Chortle. Andrew Little and his mucky dual relationships with Labour. Please explain.

          • Marty G

            Nothing wrong with it. Just like there’s nothing wrong with Eagleson being best buds with some rightwing lobbyists.

            But let’s not pretend that National doesn’t stand for the interests of the rightwing business class and Labour doesn’t stand for the working Kiwis.

  4. zonk 4

    Like Coleman smoking it up with big tobacco

  5. SHG 5

    I can’t wait to see some hard-hitting analysis of what hats these men wore and how far down they pulled them when in public.

    • Marty G 5.1

      that was a story that National put into the Dom. I was just thinking how said it is that Brand Key means John Key can’t just be in public like an ordinary person

  6. RedLogix 6

    This is one of those small, but telling moments. This trip exhibits all that venal, macho, smokey-back-room, whiskey swilling, good’ol boy behaviour you might hope our political leadership had grown out of with the passing of Muldoon. It’s so stereoptyped it’s caricature.

    I know it’s an HoS story, but you almost think someone’s taking the piss.

  7. key is slippery as his advisors i wish people would wake up.sheep mentality is not becoming of a country!

  8. Tigger 8

    This is the most cliche ridden ‘holiday’ I’ve ever heard of. Only right wingers could come up with something so banal.

  9. Jenny 9

    Good ol’boys, pork barrels, the redneck wet dream, machine gun toting, sleazy bar hopping, black jack gambling was there anything possibly missing from this parody? Maybe if they had gone on to witness a bum fight organised by the local Las Vegas privileged frat boy 311 group.

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