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Ask Ministry About Fishing Corruption - Peters

Ask The Ministry About Fishing Corruption Suggests Peters

New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says any inquiry into allegations of corruption around the scampi industry should be aimed at the dysfunctional Ministry of Fisheries.

Mr Peters confirmed today that he had never dropped his inquiries into the allegations but said he had encountered obstacles with conflicting stories, withdrawn affadavits and the high cost of analysing information supplied about years of fishing catch history.

“It would have cost me personally over $50,000 to hire an expert actuary now living in Australia to work out the catch registers and logs. Remember, the Winebox case cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars for which I was never compensated.”

Mr Peters said that his own ongoing investigations cover the entire industry – not merely scampi - and always lead back to the ministry.

“The Ministry of Fisheries has been at the centre of these problems since the Quota Management System (QMS) was established by the then Labour deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer.

“There have been four ministers since then. Ken Shirley, Doug Kidd, John Luxton and Pete Hodgson. All have failed to understand the level of sheer incompetence at the MoF and worse.

“I have raised the issue with the current minister publicly and privately. An in-house inquiry by a barrister and an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office failed to get anywhere. Moreover, neither office contacted me.

“As I said when I raised this issue in Parliament, if some companies have taken advantage of a situation that the ministry created, it is for the ministry to correct the situation and to compensate any aggrieved parties. That is at the core of the issue.”

With respect to Mr Penwarden, Mr Peters also said he had insisted to Neil Penwarden, of the Barine company, that he would handle his issue only if it was left solely to him. “

“Within weeks of receiving information from Mr Penwarden I learned that he had also approached the National Party and his information ended up in the hands of former Minister Doug Kidd.”

Mr Peters claimed that the media had slept through the issue until TVNZ tripped over it after the election.

“Assignment came to interview me about immigration and then briefly raised with me, the scampi issue but failed to ask any substantive questions or ask for any information I might have held.

“Having seen the Assignment programme today, I regard their investigation as shoddy and hopelessly inadequate.

“Mr Penwarden has no idea of the breadth of information that I hold, and I have spoken with every major fishing company in this country, scores of personalities in the industry and every one has received my assurance that the ministry was my target.

“I find it very ironic that nobody wanted to know about the corruption allegations when I first raised them but are now in a feeding frenzy.

“It is a bit rich after the election to find now that New Zealand First is some sort of media target when first, we have never had any control over the Ministry of Fisheries or the fishing industry, and second, only one newspaper, the Independent has hitherto been interested in my comments on this issue.

“The rest have done their usual Rip Van Winkle impersonation and I am sick of doing their job for them.

“My investigations ran into complications. We welcome the inquiry that I asked for months ago but it has to be across the industry, the ministry, and the four fisheries ministers concerned. Geoffrey Palmer should also front up,” said Mr Peters.

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