Stuart Nash: Public 'deserve accountability' over cup funding

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 11 Nov 2020, 2:56PM
Stuart Nash (right) replaced Phil Twyford (left) as the minister responsible for the America's Cup in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today
Stuart Nash (right) replaced Phil Twyford (left) as the minister responsible for the America's Cup in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today

Stuart Nash: Public 'deserve accountability' over cup funding

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 11 Nov 2020, 2:56PM

Stuart Nash, the Minister responsible for the America's Cup has defended Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton as a "man of integrity".

Nash also said he did not believe officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) had tried to have Dalton sacked from the company which is receiving tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers.

The MP for Napier became Minister for Economic Development in the recent Cabinet reshuffle, but has been refusing to speak to the Herald about the Government's position on America's Cup funding, as has Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

But in his weekly interview with Newstalk ZB, Nash defended Team New Zealand's leadership.

"First of all, there's been no evidence of corruption found in any investigation at all," Nash said.

It is not clear what Nash was responding to in making the comment. His office has not responded to written questions about the interview.

"The fact that Sir Stephen Tindall is involved gives me confidence that things are run well within the America's Cup and America's Cup Events [sic]," Nash said.

"The one thing I will say though, that when you take government money, there is an expectation of a certain level of transparency and accountability and that applies no matter who you are or what sort of organisation," he added.

During the short interview, Nash repeated his comments about the need for "transparency and accountability" without saying whether he believed Team New Zealand or America's Cup Event (ACE) had failed to meet the expected standards.

"Both parties are in mediation and they're working through their differences, and I am very confident they will come to an amicable solution and we'll see a good America's Cup."

Nash said he did not think there were efforts to have Dalton - who is chief executive of both Team New Zealand and ACE - removed.

"I don't think so. I mean, Grant, again, is a man of integrity," Nash said.

"As you know, he's a round the world sailor, he's negotiated a number of very substantial deals with sponsors throughout his time and my understanding is that he has always acted with integrity and honesty."

Asked by NewstalkZB host Mike Hosking if the problem was that MBIE did not understand that as winners of the America's Cup, Team New Zealand could run the event however it wanted, Nash was dismissive.

"I don't think that's the case at all," Nash said.

"The Government has invested a substantial amount of taxpayer money in this event. That does come with a high level of transparency and accountability that I think all taxpayers, including yourself as a taxpayer, expect."

In documents released proactively by Team New Zealand on Tuesday, ACE director Greg Horton, a former director of Team New Zealand, claimed that MBIE had communicated to it that it was a bottom line that Dalton be removed from ACE.

MBIE has defended its handling of the investigation, but has not said whether it demanded Dalton's removal, or that of other ACE personnel.

Team New Zealand and ACE have not responded to requests for comment.