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Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

Liberty Belle
Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

Readers of the Herald on Sundaywill have noticed Greens' co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons spat the muesli over my column drawing people's attention to the fact that she is a major shareholder in Windflow Technology Ltd ($115,000 worth of shares according to National Business Review), a subsidiary of which, New Zealand Windfarms, received $10 million worth of carbon credits from the Labour Government. These Kyoto Protocol credits are competed for by companies that can show they're doing their bit to reduce so-called greenhouse gas emissions.

I've now written to the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and the Minister In Charge Of Wringing Hands Over Climate Change, Pete Hodgson, and asked them (1) did they know, or attempt to find out that Jeanette Fitzsimons owned 50,000 shares in Windflow Technology Ltd when the Government awarded carbon credits; and (2) if they didn't know Jeanette Fitzsimons owned these shares when they dished out the credits, would their decision have been different if they did know. I await their replies with interest.

Jeanette Fitzsimons issued a press release on 10 December 2003 telling the Government to "come clean" on rumours that Meridian Energy's Project Aqua was a successful bidder for carbon credits. If that were true, she said, it "would be a travesty of the whole Kyoto process". Nine days later Windflow Technology announced it was one of 15 successful bidders for carbon credits without which, a new windfarm in Palmerston North "would not have been viable".

And adding flavour to this little story is Richard Prebble's reminding me this week about letters he wrote in September 2004 to the Prime Minister and a number of other cabinet ministers after he discovered that considerable amounts of taxpayers' money given to the Pipi Foundation had personally benefited (financially) Donna Awatere Huata (although you could recall the old truism - cheats never prosper). He asked them if there are any other Members of Parliament who have applied for funds for trusts they have benefited from, are associated with, or have personal assets in, or indeed will benefit in the future from such trusts, etc. He also asked if they had even inquired, or have appropriate checks in place to find out such information.

Preb said it took ages to get answers (hopefully, they were making thorough checks) but they all came back in the negative - they knew of no other MPs' trusts receiving taxpayers' monies. Helen Clark could, of course, argue that Windflow Technology is not a trust. But the answer I want from Helen Clark and Pete Hodgson is to the question: "Why did the Labour Government hand out $10 million of carbon credits to a company, competing with other projects for a government handout, in which a Member of Parliament is a major shareholder?"

I think we should be told.

Yours in liberty,

Deborah Coddington


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