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Meridian & Tim Barnett Still Have Explaining To Do

Meridian And Tim Barnett Still Have Explaining To Do

More questions than ever are raised by Meridian Energy's attempts to explain its surreptitious advertising of Labour MP Tim Barnett, ACT Finance Spokesman MP Rodney Hide said today.

"The Finance and Expenditure Select Committee received a 14-page letter from Meridian today which attempts to justify the $10,078 expense.

"The Government led both parliament and the public to believe that the decision to place the advertisement was made by low-level ad people.

State-owned Enterprises Minister Mark Burton said in Parliament in June:

"Frankly, I think that a small, technical mistake made by a relatively junior member of staff simply points to the fact that all people are capable of making a mistake."

"It now turns out that the Executive Management Team, the Retail Development Manager, the Power Marketing Manager, the Operations Manager, the Power Marketing Director and the Special Projects Manager of Meridian were all involved with, or directly responsible for, communications with Mr Barnett

"We also now discover that the proposal was to fund direct-mail letters and operate a database for Mr Barnett. Further, we find out that there is no legal entity for the 'Christchurch Power Consumer's Trust', which had a different name nearly every time Meridian met with Tim Barnett or his representatives.

"The biggest question for Meridian is: how did they come to be suckered in to using taxpayers' money to promote an MP to his constituents?

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"And Mr Barnett must confront serious questions concerning his judgement and integrity. His statements that he remained "comfortable" about the use of his letter in the advertisement, and that "what Meridian do is up to them" are unbecoming of a Member of Parliament who apparently used a Trust that had no legal entity or members, to obtain funds from an SOE to promote himself and his political views," Rodney Hide said.

"I will again be writing to the Speaker asking that he investigate the appropriateness of the use of the Parliamentary Crest by Mr Barnett and Meridian. I will also be using the fiscal review process to question Meridian most closely on their decision to team up with Mr Barnett.

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