Wednesday, June 08, 2011

John Key relaxed about Westpac bribery

Yesterday in the House, Green co-leader Russel Norman asked John Key some rather pointed questions about Westpac's corporate bribery. In particular, he was concerned that Treasury staff seconded to Bill English's office may have accepted hospitality from Westpac in contravention of Public Service guidelines. Key's response? He's not concerned, and he won't even bother to ask English to look into it to ensure that it has not happened:

Dr Russel Norman: Does he consider that public servants, such as staff from Treasury, should be able to enjoy the corporate hospitality of Westpac?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: That is a matter for the State Services Commissioner.

Dr Russel Norman: Can he guarantee that no ministerial staff seconded from Treasury have enjoyed the corporate hospitality of Westpac?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Dr Russel Norman: Will he, then, follow up with the Minister of Finance as to whether any of his ministerial staff seconded from Treasury have been enjoying Westpac’s corporate boxes given that public servants are not supposed to accept such gifts?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No; I think the edict was over the Rugby World Cup, not prior to that—in the same way that I will not be delving into that member’s mind to see whether he changed it on his views to America when he accepted free travel from the US State Department.

Contrary to Key's claim, public servants have always been prohibited from accepting gifts. Key is taking a very relaxed attitude to what could be a serious breach of public service ethics. But then, he has to - because otherwise it would make the double standard over Ministerial bribes even more obvious.

As for the Ministers themselves, Key retreated into faux outrage and obfuscation of the sort seen above. Though he did make the remarkable claim that the public would not be concerned about Ministers receiving hospitality from the recipient of a major government contract. Just another example of his corrupt corporate values, and how utterly divorced they are from those of ordinary New Zealanders.