Thursday, June 11, 2015


A couple of days ago I received the final information from my latest OIA request about Cabinet conflicts of interest, covering arrangements from 1 October 2014 to 31 march 2015. You can read it here. The good news? The information on permanent arrangements is a lot more detailed about both conflicts and the arrangements in place to manage them. There's still some vagueness, especially around pecuniary interests, and this is a little puzzling, since the relevant details should all also be declared in Parliament's Register of Pecuniary Interests (and significant public interest if they haven't been, since that's a contempt of Parliament).

There's also information on ad-hoc and temporary arrangements. Sadly, this is less detailed - no dates, no details on the exact nature of the conflict. And that gives rise to speculation. For example, what pecuniary interests does Paula Bennett have? A superannuation scheme and a bunch of Auckland houses. Tim Groser? Ditto. Paul Goldsmith? The same. Michael Woodhouse? Also the same. The government has recently announced a de facto capital gains tax on property speculators, and changes to kiwisaver, and these should have been in the Cabinet pipeline in the relevant period, so its no stretch to conclude that these Ministers declared a conflict on one or other of these policies. The problem? According to Parliament's Register of Pecuniary Interests, lots of other Ministers also have kiwisaver schemes and inflated Auckland property. Shouldn't they hae declared conflicts too? And if they didn't, what does that say about Cabinet's processes for identifying and managing such conflicts?

I think more answers are needed here. Sadly, DPMC doesn't seem to want to give them.