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How Much did Cullen and Clark Know?


How Much did Cullen and Clark Know?

Only an independent inquiry will reveal how much the Prime Minister and Ministers of Finance and Transport knew about Dr Ross Armstrong's insider group, ACT Commerce Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Key statements by the Minister of Finance and Dr Armstrong do not stack up beside each other. Dr Armstrong must go, but it is more important to find out exactly how much key Government ministers knew about Dr Armstrong's activities.

"Dr Cullen claimed on Thursday, "I do not know who Pacific Road New Zealand is", and said there was no plan to create an Infrastructure Partnership Task Force or National Infrastructure Council. On Friday he maintained the Government had not even created any paperwork on this issue, despite having held high-level meetings with Dr Armstrong. Yet Dr Armstrong maintains that he has not misled the Government and says the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister gave him an `indication to go ahead'.

Helen Clark's `floating' of the idea of a centralised strategy for public-private partnerships one week before Dr Armstrong's involvement was publicised creates even more questions.

"ACT Leader Richard Prebble has written to the Commerce Select Committee, which he sits on, requesting an inquiry be held into this issue. Every political party should support this move as it is the only way to ascertain how much Dr Cullen, Mr Swain and Ms Clark knew.

"Dr Armstrong must renounce his Government appointments or be sacked. But far more importantly, we must find out how much the Government knew," Miss Coddington said.

ATTACHED: Letter from Hon Richard Prebble to Chair of Commerce Select Committee

21 October 2002

The Chairman
Commerce Select Committee
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

Dear Hon Mark Peck,

Re: Inquiry into Ross Armstrong Affair

This letter is to register that the Commerce Committee hold an urgent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Dr Ross Armstrong's belief he was acting on behalf of the Prime Minister in promoting public/private partnership and creating "first mover' advantage for selected companies.

We know that the Prime Minister met secretly with a number of New Zealand's largest firms, where they discussed New Zealand's infrastructure and the advantages of public/private partnerships.

It appears that Dr Armstrong also met with Dr Cullen and discussed this matter. Dr Cullen apparently did not realise there were any ethical issues involved until it was drawn to his attention by the Herald.

These matters will cause grave concern to the business community (see attached press release from Business New Zealand).

Dr Armstrong maintains very strongly that he did not mislead the government.

Dr Cullen says it's the worse position he has ever been put into.

Clearly the Commerce Committee needs to investigate to find out what really happened and what actions it needs to take.

Yours sincerely,
Hon Richard Prebble CBE
Leader, ACT New Zealand

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