Thursday, January 06, 2011

Funding his mates II

The Herald today continues to excavate the saga of Bill English and the Pacifc Economic Development Agency, pointing out the sheer shonkiness of the process used. Not only did English try to allocate $4.8 million to his mates with no tender and without informing the relevant Ministry, he also didn't bother with a formal Budget initiative, or indeed any documentation at all.

If a new Minister had done this in their first ever Budget round, they might be able to argue that it was a mistake. But English is an experienced Minister, who has been around more than long enough to know that that is not the way things are done in this country, that public money must be properly accounted for, and that we have tenders and formal processes to ensure that it is. He chose to ignore those rules, so he could dole out public money under the table to his mates in an effort to boost the profile in the pacific Community of a National party candidate. That's an appalling attempt to misuse public funds, and not acceptable from any Minister.

Also unacceptable is his claim in the House that the allegation that "he, rather than Mrs te Heuheu, negotiated this deal, and that it was done without the normal standards of transparency, accountability and due diligence that should have been followed" was "not correct". That's known as "lying to Parliament", and while procedural rules mean that he cannot be properly held to account for it, it speaks volumes about both his honesty and his contempt for our democracy that he would stand up in the House and tell such a bald-faced lie.