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:
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.