Update on Brownlee

Written By: - Date published: 5:20 pm, October 28th, 2008 - 37 comments
Categories: corruption, election 2008, john key, national - Tags:

There are substantive policy issues such as National’s privatisation plans for the prisons that need to be covered but, first, an update on Gerry Brownlee’s conflict of interest. According to the NZPA:

Brownlee said his shareholding (496 shares, worth around $4,000 during 2002-2003) was too small to amount to a pecuniary interest.
– Pecuniary interest is not a quantitative matter. It doesn’t matter the size of your interest, it’s the nature of that interest. Moreover, Brownlee obviously thought these shares constituted a pecuniary interest when he finally declared them in 2006.

He had transferred them to one of his children after taking on the energy portfolio for National.
– not true. The Parliamentary bio is unclear as to when Brownlee first took the energy portfolio but he was the Nat asking the oral and written questions on energy since at least 2002. Brownlee owned the sharesin his own name from at least 2002 until 2006, when he put them in the trust in his child’s name.

The article then talks about speakers’ rulings in relation the need to declare pecunary interests when a member is speaking on legislation. These do not relate to members asking questions when they have a pecunary interest in the business being discussed. National admitted that Key had a conflict of interest in exactly the same situation as Brownlee was in – owning shares in a company about which he was asking questions.

37 comments on “Update on Brownlee”

  1. Ianmac 1

    OOps Just posted this elsewhere.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/thepress/0a28824.html?source=nav

    Does his explanation give him wiggle room?

  2. Conflictofinterest 2

    “Mr Brownlee had asked questions and given speeches which related to Contact and wider energy policy, the left wing Labour Party linked Standard website said.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz-election-2008/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501799&objectid=10539761

  3. jaymam 3

    I see on TV3 news that Brownlee has been complaining about his shareholding being exposed on a blog. I see also on the Nats’ Kiwiblog that someone has been doing lots of research on Winston Peters. The Nats are hypocrites.

  4. randal 4

    did they run out of pies?

  5. sweetd 5

    I see on TV one they ran a bit on Brownlee and his 1000 shares. And then it was finished. Story ended. About 30 seconds in all.

    This was after the big exclusive on Winston Peters and his pushing for Glen to be the OC in Monoco; even though he said he didn’t. A good five minutes as the lead story.

  6. randal 6

    so in that case how many pies does it take to bribe a teevee one reporter?

  7. T-rex 7

    As you say, he can’t simultaneously argue that $4k isn’t significant AND that he addressed the issue by transferring the shares to his children. The latter indicates that he accepts $4k WAS significant, and having established that as fact I think we can agree that transferring them to his child does not eliminate his conflict of interest.

    God. What amateurs. Where are these people who tirelessly champion National as the party of business brilliance?

    It reminds me of Peter Griffin trying to explain not being at work:
    “Hey Mr Wheede, I hear you ran into my identical twin brother at the ball-game yesterday… uh, and if you don’t buy that: I’m sorry I skipped work to go to the ball game yesterday”.

    The difference is that family guy is funny.

  8. Robin Grieve 8

    Less than a 1000 shares are you guys fior real?
    Have a read of standing orders you will find that holding shares does not preclude an MP from asking questions in regard to the company involved.
    Did Brownlee do anything dishonorable? No
    .Did Brownlee deny he owned them? No
    Did he lie like Winston is as we speak? No
    Is he corrupt because of this as is Helen Clark with her covering up her involvement with Winston and Owen Glenn? No
    If you want a really good scandal take a look at Labour it is all there for everyone to see.

  9. coge 9

    Do you really believe holding such a small parcel of shares could possibly create a conflict of interest?
    Not in the real world. Even the MSM understand that.

  10. sweetd 10

    Guys, the story is over. You had your 30 seconds (on tv) move on.

    If you need a hint it might pay to look what story tv one ran before the Brownlee bit.

  11. One could argue that a signing a painting you didn’t paint (which may not even have been as a claim to be the artist), or one speeding ticket when you weren’t even driving aren’t significant, but certain posters and bloggers have considered them significant enough to carry on about them for several years, using them as the base for vast conspiracy theories and medical diagnoses.

  12. the sprout 12

    Big Gerry is about as honest as he is charming.

  13. gobsmacked 13

    Never mind the details. The TV coverage reminded voters of Gerry Brownlee’s existence.

    That fact alone could lose National the election. Good work, guys.

  14. Janet 14

    Each new story having a go at Winston just reinforces his status as victim and ensures more votes for NZF. Sorry Kiwiblog and its media friends.

    Captcha: Glenn men

  15. Danny 15

    I agree Janet. That prick Peters gains votes with every bit of news about him, negative or otherwise.

    I think they see this though, that is why they tirelessly and fruitlessly try to taint Clark by association.

  16. T-Rex 16

    Gobsmacked – Totally. In terms of pop-culture-imageering he’s almost the antiKey.

    Steve, I notice Brownlee is missing from the “When you vote, don’t forget” series. Might be worth seeing the the bothEyesOpen guys can whip something up while the meme is hot…

    Or even while it’s not. He’s #3 on their list and he’s a complete tool.

    Hmm. I just had an idea for a video.

  17. Matthew Pilott 17

    Hey Steve, didn’t you hear? This was only on both of the major TV channels today, within the first 5 minutes. That’s nothing!

    Sweetd – why don’t you tell us about the story you got into the media, about a party you don’t like, 10 days out from the election. I hear it’s a ripper!

    Robin – I bet your story is even better. By the way, there was a reason for people mocking National’s billboards for saying ‘less’ bureaucrats… ent over your head eh? I’m glad that you’re happy for an MP to have about four grand’s worth of conflict of interest. Where do you think it should kick in? Half a million? In a similar fashion, what is a good length for an asault. I figre all these things have a minimum before they ‘count’.

    Have a read of the sanding orders, they say that you should declare conflicts of interest. Unlike in your mind, they don’t say “only declare a conflict of interest if it is worth more than $4000”.

    I notice that Stuff describes this as “the left wing Labour-aligned Standard website said.” The tory rag goes for “the left wing Labour Party linked Standard website said”. Ah, when you partisan hacks at The Herald are going to run an NZPA story, it’s going to be obvious where your editor is running interference for your Political Masters at National, we can read the original story. Such idiots.

  18. T-Rex 18

    From Stuff – on Peters and National:

    “Last night, TV3 released a poll showing that while 49 per cent of voters did not want Key to work with Peters under any circumstances, 34% said he should reconsider his position and work with Peters if he had to. Key said he did not believe most National supporters wanted him “bogged down in a Winston Peters partnership that could only end in tears, as they always do””

    I don’t want to be needlessly argumentative there Big Jay, but I’d say that (even assuming as fact the most optimistic assessments of your present polling) at least 34/50 = 68% of National supporters would like you to work with Peters if you had to. Because sure as hell no one ELSE is looking for opportunities for you to get into power.

    68% of National Voters: ‘Get it’ more than John Key.

    Considering average levels of National Voter Gettitness, that’s pretty laughable.

  19. Janet 19

    Pity that the media listens to their right wing friends and have dragged up another boring anti-Winston piece with full analysis. Where is the scrutiny of the conflict of issues raised by the standard about those who want to lead the country? You guys just don’t have friends in high places (like the board rooms of the media).

  20. Janet 20

    Sean Plunket just had Gerry Brownlee live on National Radio. He let him rave on about Winston Peters and got some barbs in about Helen C and Mike Williams and Sean didn’t challenge at all. Any questions about Contact energy shares, conflicts of interest? Not a whisper.

    When our tax payer owned public radio is so ‘captured’ by National and their friends on the right what hope is there for any balance in the media? Irony is that under a right wing government public radio funding will be slashed, as happened in the 1990s.

  21. sweetd 21

    Mathew Pilott-diddums

  22. higherstandard 22

    When our tax payer owned public radio is so ‘captured’ by National and their friends on the right what hope is there for any balance in the media?

    Hah RNZ right leaning ?

    496 shares – Good Lord get a life !

    At least I now understand why WP went through the bizarre charade with his No No posters – I always thought it would have made so much more sense for him to just say either yes NZ First had had a donation from O Glenn or that he was unsure and that perhaps the journalists should ask Mr Glenn.

  23. Ianmac 23

    I posted this elsewhere but it might help:
    Gerry Brownlee Shares etc:
    In the Listener Nov1-7, page 19 Clifton reports that John said in relation to his Tranzrail shares: “Did it Matter? Well you either have a conflict of interest or you don’t; it doesn’t matter whether you hold one share or a million. perception that I tried to hide something .became a reality .’
    Does this mean that he would say that Gerry’s “few shares are important??

  24. Ianmac 24

    TRex: A few weeks ago when Bill was asked re Peters alongside National: he said emphatically: ” John Key decided to not go with Peters.” I thought it was odd that he did not say “We decided…”
    There are certainly rumours that Nat Caucus are very unhappy about the possibility of missing out because of this.

  25. the sprout 25

    Yes the amount of division within the Nat caucus right now is considerable, but so far being carefully suppressed to the best of their abilities.

  26. ghostwhowalks 26

    The main reason our old friend Brownshirt Brownlee ( guilty of an assault on an interjector at a national party rally) moved his shares from his name to a family member in 2006 was the indroduction of the register of MPs pecuniary interests. I think a lot of national Mps hid their interest in various trusts about then.

    Remember also that Rodney Hide failed to declare his income from the Dancing with the stars TV show in the register for 2007.
    Yet he is bold enough to announce his donation of said sum to the Remuera Rackets Club, which goes to benefit a ‘special friend’ who just happens to be affliated to the club

  27. Daveski 27

    I repeat my comments that have been brushed off elsewhere.

    The Standard is having a personality crisis. SP has tried to position himself as a journalist – “scoop” – and the baying hordes here demand that the Standard being taken seriously by the outside world including the MSM.

    There has been some reporting on the “issues” raised by SP – no cover up – but in the real world, no one is particularly interesting.

    Meantime, in the real world, the Standard is perceived as being nothing more than a surrogate Labour site – see the Dom Post’s “labour-linked Standard”.

    Read my comments carefully. I rate the attitude and passion of many here, even SP. Some of his analysis is impressive particularly when he jumps off his bandwagon. The Standard and the mods do an excellent job of allowing dissenting views (my included).

    My point is that this issue shows that the Standard is caught in between.

    It is a partisan blog wanting to be taken more seriously (at least by some). However, if you want to be taken seriously in terms of raising these kind of issues, you will have to be less partisan.

    And if you want to be taken seriously, try focusing on real issues rather than trying to create something out of very little.

  28. r0b 28

    That’s all well meant advice I’m sure Daveski. Perhaps you should start your own blog and show the writers here how it’s done?

    And if you want to be taken seriously, try focusing on real issues rather than trying to create something out of very little.

    This blog spends a lot of time on the real issues (the economy, the environment, social justice, policy). It also runs some stories at the margins and raises some issues that no one else is raising. In short, it’s a great balance, as the rapidly growing readership and impact of The Standard attests.

  29. Daveski 29

    r0b – no egg sucking lessons intended. You will note that my criticism was not of the blog per se but the way in which some want it to be seen.

    My point is that you can’t be partisan blog with *perceived* party links and then expect to be taken seriously on a media/journalistic basis which has been the vocal criticism of this “scoop”.

    I don’t disagree with your comments about the readership. You will also note my compliments about the site, the mods, and the level of debate.

    It is a great blog – largely because it is so partisan – but there is a tendency to think that issues that matter here should matter more elsewhere.

  30. r0b 30

    My point is that you can’t be partisan blog with *perceived* party links and then expect to be taken seriously on a media/journalistic basis

    Why not? A valid story is still a valid story no matter if it gets raised on a blog, by a “real reporter”, a free lancer like Nicky Hager, or by some other partisan source (such as say a secret taper). News is news, if it sells media / advertising it will get reported.

    but there is a tendency to think that issues that matter here should matter more elsewhere.

    Is that a bad thing?

  31. Daveski 31

    r0b

    You miss my point. A story isn’t necessarily valid because YOU (ie the general readers) Standard think it is.

    I am sure that genuine issues can and will be picked up by the MSM and wider audiences. But that doesn’t mean they SHOULD be.

    Here’s an example of what I’m referring to:

    Pity that the media listens to their right wing friends and have dragged up another boring anti-Winston piece with full analysis.

    It’s really funny cos on The Other Channel, they think the media are left wing journos 🙂

  32. Ari 32

    I am sure that genuine issues can and will be picked up by the MSM and wider audiences. But that doesn’t mean they SHOULD be.

    I’m going to say this once: A conflict of interest, regardless of the size of said conflict, is big enough of an issue for people to be fired for. Why should MPs be any different, and what news agency in their right minds would stay hands-off on such a story?

  33. r0b 33

    You miss my point. A story isn’t necessarily valid because YOU (ie the general readers) Standard think it is.

    There’s no universal standard of “validity”, and little way of knowing in advance what issues will be picked up by more mainstream outlets. Hence blogs like this one fill a vital role, exploring and testing ideas and issues that would otherwise never be debated.

    Some of these issues go more mainstream and some don’t. But either way the discussions here are some small but concrete contribution to the democratic process. You should be all in favour of that, not trying to shut it down. It’s a blog, it’s doing what blogs do, and doing it well.

  34. Daveski 34

    r0b

    Actually, I think we are largely in agreement – this blog does all you say it does and no way am I saying shut it down.

    But a blog is about opinions. Ari underlines my point the issue is not as big as you think it is. But don’t expect the MSM to run your stories based on your perspectives.

    I’m opting out now 🙂 … I would have liked to have seen some comments on whether this should be primarily a blog or more of a news site as SP has tried but there has been no discussion of this.

    My original post was not negative about the Standard in fact the opposite. But the issue obviously is something that doesn’t appear to want to be discussed.

  35. Matthew Pilott 35

    Mathew Pilott-diddums

    Well done, little one. You couldn’t even get the context right for a one-liner.

    Daveski, no one expects the MSM to do anything useful – but it is a nice surprise when they do. There’s nothing wrong with criticising them for not doing something though – why would you not?

  36. lprent 36

    Daveski:

    I’m opting out now I would have liked to have seen some comments on whether this should be primarily a blog or more of a news site as SP has tried but there has been no discussion of this.

    It is a political blog site, ie it gives the posters opinions and commentary on whatever the posters feel like. It is definitely not a news site, as we make absolutely no claim to cover the news on a full-time basis. That would require more time and resources than we have. Hell – I’ve had my nose deep in X server code for the last few days. You always see the posters (and commentators) attention moving in and out of the site.

    However, that doesn’t mean that it cannot create news. Which is the point where I think that you’re getting hung up on.

    I don’t write many posts, but I can outline the issues. A lot of posts are written simply examining and opining on news, but frankly that is often boring in terms of generating opinion and often degenerates into dog whistling (look at DPF). Sometimes we dig around the virtual environs to find material for comment (like the poll stuff I dug off wiki a few days ago). Sometimes we turn up meetings and get info there (drinking liberally is pretty good at that). Sometimes we’ll dig into paperwork (I’ve pulled out old science and economics texts from my library many times). Sometime you dig into paper trails. Sometimes you nose around what comes through the e-mail from readers.

    But what you’re talking about are some pretty smart people both in the posters and in some of the commentators. Because of the nature of the beast, blogs are great place to generate express opinions, to spark investigation, and allow people to collaborate and share knowledge. Of course they’re going to generate ‘news’. A lot of the time this won’t even be the ‘facts’ type news, it will simply be a different way of looking at something.

    It gets interesting watching some of the opinions expressed here and in other blogs showing up on the MSM with a bit of a delay.

    BTW: This stuff on Key and Brownlee’s shareholdings have been heavily read. The first post was massively read on the first day, it was the most read post in a single day that we’d ever had. Fortunately I’d significantly improved the caching system the week before otherwise this site would have been dead that day. Even then, I was bloody glad that it got done during Labour weekend.

    Update: I see that the Key post is still currently the most active on the site despite the comment traffic dying down days ago, more than double then next one down (Roy Morgan Poll). I guess that some people are still accessing it heavily.

  37. Lew 37

    Brownlee/Contact made One News last night. For whatever that’s worth.

    Edit: Meh, teach me for not reading the thread before commenting 🙂

    L

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