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Mike's Minute: We're right to question Winston Peters

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 Nov 2019, 9:46AM

Mike's Minute: We're right to question Winston Peters

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 Nov 2019, 9:46AM

No, calling a reporter psycho probably isn't what a Deputy Prime Minister should be doing. But then this isn't any Deputy Prime Minister and this isn't any government. 

Sadly, reporters of a certain persuasion tend to get a wee bit ahead of themselves and see their role as slightly more important than it is.

What's important here is that Winston Peters, who's party is in government and is directly in charge of handing out certain funds to certain projects, has a spectacular conflict of interest when it came to a business called Future Forests Products.

That has a founding director called Brian Henry, who is Peters' lawyer. And has another director called Jan Trotman, who is Peters' partner.

They made bids for money from two government run programmes both run by Shane Jones, a Minister in the party Peters runs, and the government Peters is the Deputy Prime Minister of. I only explain this so painstakingly, so as to point out, just how glaringly dodgy this is.

Peters' defence appears to be, the applications they made to the One Billion Trees Programme and the Provincial Growth Fund were unsuccessful, therefore there is nothing to see here.

What is conveniently forgotten, is the question, what if they were successful? Would there still be nothing to see here? Why did they bid unless they hoped to be successful? And in making their bid, and presuming they were potentially going to be successful, what were they going to say when the inevitable avalanche of questions were going to be asked?

Let's ask some of those questions now.

Does a company that is run by the Deputy Prime Minister's lawyer and partner getting taxpayer money from a couple of funds set up as a direct result of the party the aforementioned Deputy Prime Minister is also the head of, strike any of us as slightly dubious?

Would, under most circumstances, questions be raised if programmes, in this case two, ere set up as a direct result of a party coming to power, and members, in this case the most senior member, being a direct or indirect beneficiary of said fund?

Now, Shane Jones saw a conflict here, no kidding, and stood aside from the decision making process. The final call was left to Labour Cabinet Ministers who, perhaps not unsurprisingly, saw this for what it potentially was and declined the applications.

So given nothing actually came to pass, the argument from Peters is, no harm no foul.

But guess what? That’s bluster. The sort of bluster sadly we saw also last week in court when he was suing Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett for hundreds of thousands, only to watch that element of his lawsuit go up in smoke.

I assume I am not alone in thinking this sadly is a part of this government that continues to be such a profound disappointment. A minor party appearing to play fast and loose, with a major party inept and unwilling to do anything about it.

If you think what Peters, his lawyer, and his partner were attempting to do is above board and kosher, you're as psycho as Peters thinks the reporter is.  

ON AIR: Sunday Night Talk

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