Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Concerns over secret fisheries donations to NZ First Foundation

A Talley's fishing boat. Photo: Screenshot / Youtube / Talleys Group Ltd

One of the country's biggest fishing companies, Talley's, and its managing director donated nearly $27,000 to the New Zealand First Foundation, which has been bankrolling the New Zealand First Party.

The foundation received $26,950 from seafood giant Talley's and from managing director Sir Peter Talley between 2017 and 2019, according to records viewed by RNZ.

It received the money from Talley's in four amounts - all of which were below the threshold for public disclosure and so have not been publicly revealed until now.

Greenpeace was concerned by the donations and believed the New Zealand First Party had too much sway over fishing policy and the party was too close to the industry.

Greenpeace executive director Russell Norman called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to review key fishing policy decisions, which he said were favourable to the seafood industry, in light of the donation revelations.

"I think it's essential that the Prime Minister ... reassure herself about the integrity of the decision-making process of her government," Norman said.

"I would also strongly urge her, going forward, to ensure that New Zealand First are not involved in any of the decision-making around fishing and oceans policy, just to protect the reputation of her government."

On 4 April, 2019, Talley's deposited $2500 into the foundation bank account. The next day Peter Talley personally made a $15,000 donation - one cent under the level at which donations are made public.

Talley's followed that up with a "fast deposit" of $2000 on 29 July, 2019.

Talley's also donated to the Foundation during the 2017 election year, making a donation of $7450 on 25 May, 2017.

As well as donating to the foundation, Talley's made a $10,000 candidate donation to NZ First Cabinet Minister Shane Jones in 2017 and another $2000 donation to fellow NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau. Those donations were declared.

Talley's donated a total of $40,000 to eight other candidates during the 2017 election campaign - seven from the National Party and one from Labour - giving each of them $5000. All eight donations were disclosed by the respective candidates.

Peter Talley refused to comment when contacted by RNZ.

He had previously told RNZ the donations were "none of your business".

Norman said it was important the donations to the foundation were disclosed, so the public could judge for itself whether the seafood industry had influence on government decisions.

Norman wrote to the prime minister last October expressing concern that Jones was "unduly involved" in fishing industry interests.

One of the concerns Norman outlined to the prime minister was that Jones commented on a case that was before the court, which went against the Cabinet Manual.

"He said that the Crown prosecution of Talley's fishing company for illegally fishing in a protected area was a 'mere technical issue which would be ironed out when common sense prevails,'" the letter says.

The letter also expressed concern that in early 2019 New Zealand First had blocked plans for a panel to advise on a fisheries review, after already blocking appointments to the same panel.

"These are indications of a predilection to interfere in matters that impact the fishing industry and inference of influence over decisions made that affect that industry far beyond Minister Jones' official remit."

Fisheries minister Stuart Nash told RNZ at the time that he had decided an independent panel was not needed, as Fisheries New Zealand was capable of running the review themselves.

Jones - who used to chair Te Ohu Kaimoana, or the Māori Fisheries Commission - has made no secret of his support for the industry.

At Seafood New Zealand's 2019 conference, he told attendees to "please regard myself, and indeed my leader, as two incredibly pro-industry personalities".

He went on to tell the conference that environmental activists called him the "ghost [fishing] minister… It's actually quite a flattering description".

Greenpeace noted the "ghost minister" comment in its letter and, concerned about financial support to New Zealand First from the seafood industry, asked the prime minister to exclude New Zealand First MPs from consultation on the Maui and Hector's Dolphins Threat Management Plan.

The prime minister replied on 29 October, saying all ministers should abide by the Cabinet Manual and that conflict of interests were managed through the Cabinet Office.

In an interview with RNZ, Norman queried how the conflict could be managed, given the donations from Talley's had not been disclosed.

Talley's has lobbied the government on several issues, including putting cameras on boats.

On 27 July, 2018 the Talley's Group, along with Sealord and Te Ohu Kai Moana, wrote to Nash saying they did not support a plan for compulsory cameras on commercial fishing vessels.

Nash eventually announced in June 2019 that only 28 vessels - those most at risk of encountering Maui dolphins - would be required to operate with on-board cameras, starting from November that year.

In that same month it was revealed that fishing companies including Talley's had sent letters to Nash, Jones and foreign minister Winston Peters warning legal action could be taken against the government over new seabed protection rules in the South Pacific.

The letters, sent in 2017 and 2018 by the High Seas Group, related to rules restricting bottom-trawling.

Last week, Greenpeace accused the government of caving in to Talley's interests by lobbying for a Talley's vessel, the Amaltal Apollo, to be taken off an international black-list, despite allegedly trawling in an area closed to fishing in May 2018.

Amaltal, the Nelson-based deepwater division of Talley's Group, is being prosecuted by the Ministry for Primary Industries over the incident and faces 14 charges under the Fisheries Act.

The company pleaded not guilty in the Nelson District Court last year and has said the incident was a technical error based on out-of-date information given by a Ministry for Primary Industries observer on the vessel.

Amaltal spokesman Tony Hazlett said in January last year the company rejected any suggestion it was intentionally fishing in a closed area. "Our captain fished with the full knowledge and complete approval of the MPI observer."

Amaltal said last week the decision to remove its vessel from the blacklist was supported by all 15 member countries of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation.

Nash said donations did not influence policy and decisions were made on the basis of marine science, official advice and the Cabinet process.

Nash, a Labour MP, said he consulted with both New Zealand First and the Greens over government fishing policy and that Jones had experience in the area from his time at Te Ohu Kaimoana and foreign affairs.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Use Of Existing Drugs To Reduce The Effects Of Coronavirus

So now, we’re all getting up to speed with the travel bans, the rigorous handwashing and drying, the social distancing, and the avoidance of public transport wherever possible. Right. At a wider level…so far, the public health system has ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Oil Market And Regulation Crusades

Safe to say, Vladimir Putin did not expect the response he has received amidships from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Earlier, Russia chose to walk away from the OPEC talks in Vienna that were aimed at reaching an agreement on how to reduce world oil production (and protect oil prices) in the light of the fall in demand being caused by the coronavirus. No doubt, Russia and its allies in the US shale industry probably glimpsed an opportunity to undercut OPEC and seize some of its customers. Bad move. In reply, Saudi Arabia has smashed the oil market by hugely ramping up production, signing up customers and drastically cutting the oil price in a fashion designed to knock Russia and other oil suppliers right out of contention. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On 22 Short Takes About Super Tuesday

With obvious apologies to the Simpsons….Here’s my 22 short takes on the 14 Super Tuesday primaries that combined yesterday to produce a common narrative –Bernie Sanders NOT running away with the nomination, Joe Biden coming back from the dead, and the really, really rich guy proving to be really, really bad at politics. In the months ahead, it will be fascinating to see if the real Joe Biden can live up to the idea of Joe Biden that people voted for yesterday – namely, the wise old guy who can save the country from the political extremism of the right and the left... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Strong Man Legacies: Burying Mubarak

Reviled strongmen of one era are often the celebrated ones of others. Citizens otherwise tormented find that replacements are poor, in some cases even crueller, than the original artefact. Such strongmen also serve as ideal alibis for rehabilitation ... More>>

Caitlin Johnstone: Humanity Is Making A Very Important Choice When It Comes To Assange

The propagandists have all gone dead silent on the WikiLeaks founder they previously were smearing with relentless viciousness, because they no longer have an argument. The facts are all in, and yes, it turns out the US government is certainly and undeniably working to exploit legal loopholes to imprison a journalist for exposing its war crimes. That is happening, and there is no justifying it... More>>

Gail Duncan: Reframing Welfare Report

Michael Joseph Savage, the architect of the 1938 Social Security Act, wouldn’t recognise today’s Social Security Act as having anything to do with the kind, cooperative, caring society he envisioned 80 years ago. Instead society in 2020 has been reduced ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Addiction To Chinese Student Fees

Last week, Australian PM Scott Morrison extended its ban on foreign visitors from or passing through from mainland China – including Chinese students - for a third week. New Zealand has dutifully followed suit, with our travel ban ... More>>

 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog