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Cullen Puts Hide On Notice About Outside Payments

Cullen Puts Hide On Notice About Outside Payments

By Alastair Thompson and Kevin List

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Michael Cullen At Today's Post Cabinet Press Conference

Acting PM Michael Cullen today put ACT leader Rodney Hide on notice similar scrutiny being applied to suspended Cabinet Minister John Tamihere's payments from the Waipareira Trust might also be applied to payments the ACT Leader has allegedly received himself.

Today the ACT Leader wrote to the Speaker requesting a privileges inquiry into claims made by the Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust chairman that some of the money paid to Mr Tamihere was for services the MP was expected to deliver for the trust as an MP.

Speaking at the post cabinet press conference this afternoon Mr Cullen said, "there are a lot of glass houses around this issue." Asked what he meant he replied, "You may recall I have twice challenged Mr Hide in Parliament in regard to receiving outside payments whilst an MP. He has failed to respond on both occasions."

Mr Cullen also questioned whether Mr Hide might be seen as acting as an agent for TV3 in his pursuit of Tamihere over the payment issue, and pondered whether this is in order.

In relation to the glass houses remarks Mr Cullen appears to have been referring back to remarks during debate on the Members of Parliament (Pecuniary Interests) Bill in late 2003.

In the first reading debate of the bill on October 16th the controversy in issue was raised by Labour MP Clayton Gosgrove:

"I also refer to a case where a member of Parliament’s salary was topped up by a third party, or subsidised—not for a corrupt purpose, because that would be outside the Standing Orders. For instance, Mr Hide has been asked whether he has received any pecuniary gain—sorry, whether he is here also because his salary is being topped up— and he has never answered that."

When Richard Prebble accused Cosgrove of accusing Mr Hide of taking bribes Mr Cosgrove replied.

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove

" Speaking to the point of order, I point out that I specifically said that I was not accusing anyone, in referring to a member’s salary being topped up or subsidised. I specifically said in my speech that I was not saying that the top-up was for corrupt practice. There is nothing in the Standing Orders—or legally, as I understand it—that prevents a member from coming in here, taking the salary, and having a third party add $10,000 or $20,000 a year to it because some people consider the salary is too low. That is not corruption."

ACT Leader Rodney Hide

Later Mr Cosgrove elaborated further on the accusations saying.

" Let us look at an example. We know that Mr Hide worked for an outside organisation, Gilt-Edged Securities, which was set up to establish the ACT party. He got paid for 3 years—we know that from Mr Gibbs and Mr Farmer. Then he came into Parliament. The question might be whether—not for corrupt purposes, not to do anything like that—Mr Hide considered a salary of about $100,000 a year too light for him, and whether Gilt-Edged Securities said it would top it up by 50 or 60 grand. When did he stop being paid by Gilt-Edged Securities and Mr Gibbs and Mr Farmer—not for any corrupt purpose, of course; I would never accuse Mr Hide of that."

Mr Cosgrove was then asked by deputy speaker Ross Robertson to get back to the point of the bill.



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Michael Cullen Answers Questions At Today's Post Cabinet Press Conference

Question – TVNZ: Dr Cullen are you saying that depending on the outcome of the inquiry that the door is still open for Mr Tamihere?

Cullen: "That would depend on the nature of the conclusions from the inquiry."

Asked what can be covered in the inquiry report.

Cullen: "The writer [of the inquiry report] is free to comment on what he wishes to comment on"

Asked to comment on the political issue raised by the acceptance by Mr Tamihere of a golden handshake during a campaign when Labour campaigned against such payments.

Cullen: "No, I am not going to get into discussions on the allegations at this point."

Asked whether the IRD would be able to provide the inquiry with information.

Cullen: "I have every reason to believe that Mr Tamihere will want to co-operate with this investigation in full. I would hope that the Trust will also do so."

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Michael Cullen Answers Questions At Today's Post Cabinet Press Conference

Asked what other allegations might be expected to come up.

Cullen: "It is not for me to know what any further allegations are – it is for TV3 to know the nature of any further allegations and of course Mr Hide. I would say as Leader of the House that I would have some concern if Mr Hide is acting as a Parliamentary agent for TV3. You may recall there was a matter before the House of Commons recently on that type of thing. There are a lot of glass houses around this issue."

Asked what he meant by his glass houses remark.

Cullen: "You may recall I have twice challenged Mr Hide in Parliament in regard to receiving outside payments whilst an MP. He has failed to respond on both occasions."

Click for big version

Michael Cullen Answers Questions At Today's Post Cabinet Press Conference

Question: Dr Cullen were you, the Prime Minister or anyone else in the cabinet aware of any payments that may have been made prior to this coming up last week?

Cullen: I was not aware myself - I can't speak on behalf of any other member of cabinet. I was only aware of the allegations very shortly before the TV3 broadcast [Thursday evening].

Cullen: "This all began with an attempt by Mr Tamihere to get a proper inquiry to get a proper inquiry and audit into the Trust. The Trust is a very political body it is fair to say "

Asked whether Mr Tamihere would be in the house this week.

Cullen: "I think John probably won't be attending Parliament this week."


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