Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: Saudi sheep: Misappropriating taxpayers' money

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  • sandra,

    Thanks Rob. I heard a bit of Matthew Hooton going off about it yesterday on NatRad - he too, was calling for the head of McCully.

    Stinky, stinky, stinky.

    tauranga • Since Dec 2011 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    The govt must be held to account - though the process being fair and all that won't be fast enough for the public to take much notice

    I can't but help wonder what Al Khalaf and the Saudi's make of all this - surely Duncan Garner's et al have been calling?

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 538 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to bob daktari,

    I can't but help wonder what Al Khalaf and the Saudi's make of all this

    They're amused and who could blame them;

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/68145274/Prime-Minister-John-Key-meets-Saudi-Arabias-Prince-Alwaleed-bin-Talal

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Don't the words 'graft' and 'embezzlement' come to mind?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    wow... I thought that satire lambasting key and had to check the byline

    great business leaders we have it seems *shudders*

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 538 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    McCully's latest statement (released in writing and reported identically by RNZ and Fairfax) shifts ground slightly on advice he got.

    But McCully said appropriate independent and internal legal advice was sought on the contract for services which MFAT entered into with the Al Khalaf group.

    Let's see that 'independent' advice, aside from the internal MFAT stuff we already knew exists.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Don’t the words ‘graft’ and ‘embezzlement’ come to mind?

    If it was anyone else, would they be getting investigated by the police for embezzelment?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown, in reply to steven crawford,

    SFO investigation, at that dollar level.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Don't the words 'graft' and 'embezzlement' come to mind?

    As do the words bribery, fraud and corruption.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1387 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This seems a good time to call back that old favourite: McCully's Tourism Board fiasco:

    In February 1998, something odd happened. A little tourism advisory unit was transferred from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Internal Affairs in order that it might be combined with another unit. Together, they became the Office of Tourism and Sport.

    Can anybody else see a compelling synergy between tourism and sport - beyond the fact that McCully was minister of both and the impression that he wanted to build his own little empire at the taxpayer's expense?

    Incredibly, it didn't stop there. McCully set up another body, known as the Tourism and Sport Ministerial Advisory Board. Its role, apparently, was to advise and support the director of the Office of Tourism and Sport, which in turn would advise the Minister himself.

    You might well wonder what the hell was going on here - especially given that the auditor general could find no evidence that Cabinet even knew about the TSMAB, let alone approved it. It was entirely McCully's idea, and the way it is constituted - with the minister himself appointing all members - has no precedent in the New Zealand public service.

    While all this was going on, a strategic review of the Tourism Board's business was completed. Among other things, it called for internal restructuring of the Tourism Board's operations. It was over this that relations began to break down.

    McCully told the auditor-general what he told the public - that he was unhappy with the board's progress and that he was under pressure from prominent figures in the industry to make changes. To this day, unfortunately, not one of those people in the industry has emerged to confirm that this was the case.

    McCully turned on the board, especially those members he had appointed. A further, independent review of operations was recommended in the board's purchase agreement. It was carried out by Price Waterhouse. Or, rather, most people thought it was.

    But, to widespread surprise, McCully's man at the Office of Tourism and Sport, Scott Morrison, declared that it was his report, even though he had no authority at all to do so.

    It turned out that he had told the Price Waterhouse people the same thing. Even McCully was surprised by this. Morrison also took it upon himself to broaden the review's terms of reference from a simple study of operational costs to a broad-ranging study of the whole business. Again, he had no authority to do so.

    Having had their review hi-jacked - our money again, folks - the board members were, at Morrison's order, not even allowed an opportunity to comment on it. If it was a turf war, then only one side was in it.

    Morrison wrote to McCully saying the report had uncovered extremely serious shortcomings, so much so that Mogridge, the board chairman, should be dismissed immediately. The auditor-general was surprised by this advice, especially given that the board had never even seen a draft of the report - and that its authors at Price Waterhouse made plain their view that their report did not support or justify Morrison's advice to the minister.

    Readers will doubtless note similarities to the present debacle.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Attachment

    Garrick Tremain in the ODT.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1387 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    The other word that sprang to my mind was 'bribe'.

    If this situation is as reported, why exactly is he being 'compensated'? Sucks to him that the disgusting live exports are off, but that's part of doing business - conditions change. Were any other exporters in this boat - so to speak - 'compensated'?

    And moving the goal posts indeed if the justification now is some kind of business contacts. If we need access to Saudi's business community so desperately, how about a High Commission (if there isn't one)? It'd be cheaper.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Is it your view that the money was spent outside the scope the appropriation it came from? If so, have you considered a complaint with the police for a criminal breach of the Public Finance Act?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Let's see if Q10 in #nzqt today sheds any further light on that matter.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to bob daktari,

    great business leaders we have it seems *shudders*

    Yep, and don't forget it was McCully who chaired our recent stint at head of table on the Security Council. The two vetoes in a single session (a record) might have been sending a message about the appalling diplomatic representation we are touting of late;

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11473620

    What diplomat precedes their place at that table with such arrogance?

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sacha,

    One of the most limp #nzqt displays by Labour I've seen in a long while lets the Nats dodge questions and re-run their usual lines of it all being Labour's fault (with the connivance of the Speaker as usual).

    PM claimed in answer to Q10 that Cabinet did not need to approve the payment as it was within MFAT's appropriations.

    That's only after McCully and staff ducked and dived to make it so, but hey. If an opposition can't press home such an obvious opportunity for political accountability, they really do deserve the knacker's yard.

    I'm also unimpressed with the Greens and NZ First wasting their more limited number of questions today as well. How on earth is recycling plastic shopping bags the most pressing matter of the day?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • James Caygill,

    So to me it all boils down to your fourth point Rob, the rest is both distracting or arguably beside the point in the cut and thrust of real politik.

    Labour should be focussed solely on the mis-spending of funds appropriated by parliament for a particular purpose. On that point I wholeheartedly agree with you and Hooten - Ministerial resignation should be the minimum required.

    Christchurch • Since Oct 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    So, let us see.
    My neighbour has a nice car. I would like to take his car for my own use and it would also increase my status.
    However, stealing is illegal. Should I demand compensation from the Gummint? say $4m. Seems fine to me.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond,

    Update: The Labour party has produced a digest of some of the 900 pages of documents, including some of the documents I quoted from in this post, and stuck them up online here.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Ewan Morris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And let's not forget another McCully special - refocusing New Zealand's aid programme away from a focus on poverty elimination, without actually bothering to review the effectiveness of the existing programme (short version here).

    Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to James Caygill,

    You can also add the glaring hypocrisy of subsidising the already loaded, when Main Street keeps being told the cupboard's bare.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    One of the most limp #nzqt displays by Labour I’ve seen in a long while lets the Nats dodge questions and re-run their usual lines of it all being Labour’s fault (with the connivance of the Speaker as usual).

    Sigh. Didn't watch, but I'm sure you're right.

    It's just a little depressing that so much of accountability seems contingent on Opposition parties coming up with the perfect gotcha. Surely there's more to it than the game ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    subsidising the already loaded

    perfectly consistent with their core ideology, rather than hypocritical.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The Bellwether leads us astray...
    McCully should be sheepish about being 'cowed' by foreign bullies.
    He should fall on his 'Saud' - (as it were)...

    Now if Saudi Arabia were party to an agreement with us (such as the odious TPPA) they may well have had every 'right' to sue NZ for making changes that affected their bottom line - (which assumes that Companies are too big to change, something history does not bear out - everything changes... everything passes...)

    Surely governance and business are separate beasts, with different priorities?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Prime Minister's weird, mendacious Morning Report interview.

    He holds the rest of us in contempt.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

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