I come to defend Steven Joyce, not to bury him. In the fracas over the Government’s decision to let radio companies pay for their licences over five years, rather than pay $96 million up front, he has taken more than his fair share of unfair criticism.
Oh dear. I expect Vernon will now be pilloried on certain left wing blogs.
Suggestions that Mr Joyce, the communications and information technology minister, had some sort of conflict of interest in helping out the Brent Impey-led company (that Mr Joyce established) survives only till you know that Mr Joyce and Mr Impey are . . . errr . . . not close.
Mr Impey, with Canwest, led a successful “unfriendly takeover” of MediaWorks in 2001- that is, one bitterly opposed by Mr Joyce.
I was unaware of this, and not seen this in any other media. It is a good story that adds new facts to an issue.
The minister initially opposed any deal with the commercial radio sector. To protect himself further, he also sought advice from the Cabinet Office and was told he did not have a conflict of interest. It might have been wiser politically for him to step aside anyway, but that is miles away from any wrongdoing.
Those who have never actually worked in business (like most Labour MPs) have no real idea of what does and does not constitute a conflict of interest. They think that any affiliation or association what-so-ever means you must recuse yourself. This is not so. This would see the Minister of Finance unable to own a home, or the Minister of Agriculture unable to be a farmer.
Of course, it fits Labour’s narrative of a Government pandering to the few not the many, feathering the nest of its rich mates and acting as lobby-fodder for business.
But is Labour saying it wants a hands-off approach to business, whether or not that involves job losses?
WE SHALL never know what would have happened had MediaWorks been denied the payment relief and asked to stump up the full $42m at the end of 2009 – as advertising rates were falling, the economic outlook was bleak and banks were ultra-cautious about lending.
If one or more major media companies had failed, more than 1000 jobs could have been on the line. …
Mr Joyce is also blunt about the political fallout if the Government had said “get stuffed” and one of the big companies had collapsed. Once it was known the Government had rejected a deal at commercial interest rates with all the frequencies held as collateral, ministers would have been pilloried as hard-hearted, far-right, hands-off ideologues.
Is there a single person who doesn’t think Labour wouldn’t have done exactly what Vernon writes above, and lashed the Government for destroying jobs if it had refused the deferred payment scheme, and a major broadcaster collapsed?