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.