Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oh dear

So, it turns out that Attorney-General Chris Finalyson has been lying to Parliament for four years, having filed repeated false pecuniary interest declarations, which omitted to state his position as a director of a company named Te Puhi Trustee (2) Limited. This is unlikely to be a matter of oversight - Finlayson established the company in 2006, after he became an MP.

This is unacceptable. The register of pecuniary interests is a vital defence against political corruption. We can not tolerate any MP evading its (and our) scrutiny. Oversights happen, but where the omission appears to be deliberate, it cannot be taken as anything other than a declaration of intent to behave corruptly. And that is something we should not accept.

Labour is drawing comparisons with the case of David Parker, who resigned as Attorney-General after being accused of filing false company declarations (a charge on which he was later completely exonerated). Given the nature of the position, it was widely regarded as the honourable thing to do. Finlayson can do no less. Parker's crime was inadvertent; Finlayson has knowingly lied to Parliament four times in a matter which strikes at the heart of his integrity. And that makes him unsuitable to be Attorney-General.

As with Parker, this is a shame; Finlayson is a competent Minister who has done an excellent job. But the position of Attorney-General requires someone of unblemished integrity. People who repeatedly lie to Parliament simply do not make the grade.