Sunday, November 20, 2005

Dodgy dealings

Today's Sunday Star-Times has a story on dodgy dealings involving Wairarapa MP and former diplomat John Hayes. In 2002, a Japanese woman invested $600,000 in Hayes' luxury retirement home development, apparantly on the understanding (given to her by "senior ministry officials" - Hayes' colleagues) that it would help her get residency. A residency permit of course did not eventuate (MFAT doesn't have any power at all in that area), and she has since been forced to leave New Zealand. Hayes' former colleagues are now under investigation by MFAT, but Hayes is not, as he is no longer an employee.

This is not quite in the same league as Taito Philip Field, but it is still incredibly dodgy. If the allegations are correct, Hayes was not corruptly selling his services, but rather exploiting his position for personal gain (on the perception that he could sell his services). And this is inappropriate for any public servant. Our public service must not only not be corrupt, it must be seen not to be corrupt, and this requires that public servants exercise discretion in their business dealings as much as they do in the expression of political views. At the least, Hayes has failed to do that, which speaks of incredibly poor judgement on his part.