What conflict of interest

Written By: - Date published: 9:58 am, October 16th, 2022 - 19 comments
Categories: Nanaia Mahuta, national, political parties, same old national - Tags:

National continues to shoot itself in the foot.

For a while now it has, with the aid of its useful idiots in the media, been on the attack against Nanaia Mahuta.  Her whanau perform various services for Government Departments.  And, shock horror, they get paid.

Mahuta states that she has always been assiduous in handling the perceived conflicts.  There is no automatic rule that an MP’s spouse is precluded from providing services.  Otherwise teacher spouses could never teach in a public school.

And considering that Nanaia’s whanau are in the upper echelons of Tainui this would have a really retrograde effect on Tainui’s future.

New Zealand is too small.  This is why conflicts need to be managed.

A review into Nanaia’s handling of conflicts is under way.  I am confident the report will confirm she has behaved appropriately.

National and Act have has been on the attack for some time.  Call me a cynic but I wonder if Nanaia’s race has something to do with their choice of target.  Gauging by the reprehensible social media I have seen circulating through right wing social media I get the strong impression that it is.

National thought it had struck the jackpot when the Public Service Commission announced a review of the handling of Manuta’s conflicts of interest, even though Chris Hipkins’ request was probably the feature that got it over the line.

But yes let us make sure that conflicts are handled properly and appropriately.

So National’s announcement of of Barbara Kuriger being stripped of all of her portfolios for conflict of interest is such an own goal.

From Radio New Zealand:

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has confirmed Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger has resigned her portfolios of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Food Safety over a “personal dispute” with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

In a statement, Luxon said he was aware Kuriger and her family were involved in the dispute.

“I discussed this with Ms Kuriger and she accepts that this is a significant conflict of interest and the failure to recognise it and to take steps to manage this conflict has been a serious lapse of judgement,” he said.

“On this basis, Ms Kuriger felt it appropriate to resign from her portfolios.”

The background is as follows:

Her son was charged with animal cruelty offences in relation to a herd of cattle who were lame and suffering white line disease in 2016 and 2017.

He was convicted in 2020, and Kuriger raised concerns at the time about how the investigation was handled.

In a statement today, she said she accepted the conflict should have been recognised sooner, but she worked to keep it separate from her work.

“This has created a blurred line with my portfolio responsibilities and in order to continue to support my family, I am stepping aside,” she said.

“Although the dispute is, for me, a personal matter which I have endeavoured at all times to keep separate from my professional role, I accept there has been a conflict of interest which I should have recognised sooner, and managed.”

There were other aspects to the prosecution.  Kuriger’s husband was also charged but what appears to be a coordinated plea bargain charges against him were dropped after Kuriger’s son pleaded guilty to amended charges.

The allegation was that  alleges Kuriger has used her official letterhead to persistently request for official information about her family’s case.

Given that she may eventually have been the Minister for MPI the sense of bullying is strong.

She has not been a stand out as an MP.  She did see weird culture wars in Dr Seuss’s estate deciding to withdraw a book from publication.  She did dob in Todd Muller for talking to a reporter about Harete Hipango and this led to his downfall.  Muller has now taken over her portfolios.  Politics can be pretty brutal sometimes.

I wonder if Kuriger will stand next election or if she will retire to spend more time with her family.  Sounds like they may need some extra help on the farm.

But whatever happens National now complaining about conflicts of interest will look hypocritical.  Although I don’t think this will stop them from continuing with the attacks on Nanaia.

19 comments on “What conflict of interest ”

  1. Ad 1

    +1000

    And don't forget it was animal cruelty to a level of a Police prosecution, and she was on track to be Minister for Agriculture.

    • Paul Campbell 1.1

      Yeah but imagine how hard Luxon would have come down on her if she had been say, found to have beaten a kid with with a bed leg, rather than hurt some cows

      • Incognito 1.1.1

        AFAIK, there aren’t and haven’t been any allegations of animal cruelty by Barbara Kuriger personally. Allegedly, she lost her National Party portfolios for her lapse(s) of judgement, her poor handling of conflicts of interest, and not keeping the Party sufficiently informed.

  2. Anker 2

    Yes Luxon did the right thing in sacking Kuiriger.

    But you are glossing over the issues around Mahuta's family.

    I think Mahuta has brushed aside the overwhelming number of family appointments made when she just happened to be a Minister or an associate Minister of various Ministries. The enquiry will most likely find that Public servants were sloppy in appointments. With the exceptions of when Mahuta appointed her niece to be on the committee that wrote He puapua. She didn't step aside for the appointment.

    Mahuta's husband got a contract for a suicide prevention workshop (but has no qualifications in mental health). Research shows us there is very little can be done to prevent suicide (the suicide rate dropped in the UK when they changed household gas to a a non toxic variety, thus reducing easy access to means with which to suicide). So why was he getting public funding for an area (and there are more than one) that he has no expertise in? Suicide prevention, while important needs to be left to the very clever people with excellent research skills who can traul through the evidence worldwide looking to find what actually works. Re Mahuta's husbaand There is also the leaked document showing that in his submission for the contract he claimed $2000.00 for an appearance by Naiaia at the workshop (the OIA had scrubbed out her name, but the helpful leaker provided the document as it was submitted). So Mr Ormsby asked for $2000.00 for his wife a Minister (I think Associate MInister of Health to appear at this workshop). To the credit of the public service, they didn't allow it.
    The money Mr Ormsy got for this suicide prevention workshop would have been better spent employing two or three nurses or counsellors, who may not have prevented a suicide (because actually suicide isn't a frequent event), but who could at least of helped people who are suffering. I would put money on it that sweet fa came out of the workshop.

    A number of the contracts Mahuta's family got were not put out to tender. They were automatically given them

    I think Mickey you need to imagine what you would be thinking if this was a National Cabinet minister and their family. Because I think if contracts do go to family members, there must be absolutely compelling reasons for this to happen and there must be a process where all contracts are put out to tender and they are able to show very clearly that the family member was truly the best candidate for the job.

    Having read quite a bit on the issues of Mahuta's family getting so many contracts/positions, I find it impossible not to consider that this is nothing short of nepotism.

    ps it may be if the msm had of covered this story in a timely manner in there usual media outlets, such as stuff, the rumours wouldn’t have swerlled so much. It looked to me like the msm were actively ignoring the story, which doesn’t instill much trust in our media (with exception of Kate McNamara in the Herald)

  3. Anne 3

    The journalists and politicians who have been most assiduous in their condemnation of Nanaia Mahuta and the Mahuta family will become remarkably muted over the emerging conflict of interest involving Barbara Kuriger and her family.

    It should be noted the Mahuta family have both the mana and the skill sets required of them, so it isn't surprising they are well represented in industry, commerce and matters relating to Maori governance. The Kuriger family on the other hand, well I know of nothing that makes them stand out in any meaningful way.

    However the ugly head of racism and bias – unconscious or otherwise – will probably ensure that the nay-sayers are not finished with their attacks on the Mahuta family.

  4. higherstandard 4

    Kuriger has been rightly stood down in relation to conflicts of interest.

    However to suggest the Mahuta clan's conflicts don't smell to high heaven is laughable.

    https://www.spectator.com.au/2022/08/a-very-talented-family/

  5. Reality 5

    Today's Herald "How a a National MP went to war for her son and how it cost her her job" – sort of praising her for her loyalty to family. Very inaccurate headline.

    She has not lost her job, she is still receiving her generous MP salary. If she had lost her job she would be stepping down as an MP. She has only lost her spokesperson roles.

  6. mike 6

    On the day of the farm-gate emission announcement Barbara Kuriger said on One News "and we like the idea that the money cycles back into research and development for the industry to solve some of its problems". That night farmers began their hysterical chest thumping – ignoring the fact that they had all been party to the design of the scheme. Luxon, as usual, went with the hysteria – then had to distance National from the positive words of Kruiger. Next day she was gone, on the trumped up 'conflict' thing that had conveniently been sidelined until he needed her axed so he could position the party clearly on the negative side. Talk about populist tactics. What is it with National jokers and dispensable women?

  7. Keith Christie 7

    OMG the issue with this person is not about a supposed conflict of interest. It is about integrity, policy of a major political party and our international reputation.

    I don't know where they get these people from. Farms are family affairs and it must have been extremely serious for the ministry to prosecute because they always work with people, give advice,and then give warnings beforehand. So she would have been well aware of the situation. And to actively negate policies to mitigate environmental degradation and climate change paints a picture of how low and incompetent a National/Act government would be.

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