Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A conflict of interest II

And while we're on the subject of conflicts of interest, here's another question: how many Cabinet Ministers - who as pointed out below stand to gain an appreciable amount from the government's expected tax cuts - declared any conflict before considering the issue around the Cabinet table?

The Cabinet Manual requires Ministers to "ensur[e] that no conflict exists or appears to exist between their personal interests and their public duty". As for what a conflict is, it uses the ordinary sense:

A pecuniary conflict of interest may arise if a Minister could reasonably be perceived as standing to gain or lose financially from decisions or acts for which he or she is responsible.
Ministers "could reasonably be perceived" to (screw it: will) benefit from top-rate tax-cuts. This is, in the terms of the Cabinet Manual and in the eyes of the public, a clear conflict of interest. So, what, if anything, was done about it?

My guess is nothing. Highly paid Ministers don't regard passing laws to benefit themselves as any form of conflict. What's good for them is good for New Zealand. We don't buy that bullshit from corporations, and we shouldn't buy it from them.