Mayor gets former MP $3,400 with no documentation

February 24th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

Dunedin Dave Cull is defending a “gentleman’s” agreement which saw a former MP paid $3400 for lobbying following a handshake deal.

Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal that former Dunedin North MP was paid by the council to lobby the Government not to strip core functions of Ag Research Limited from Invermay, near Dunedin.

The council said the main point of contact for the deal with Hodgson was Cull, but could not locate a single email, contract or any other document relating to the agreement. Hodgson had provided “lobbying and advocating” on behalf of council, and that he had “contributed” to a letter to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and a submission written to the board of Ag Research.

“Mr Hodgson did not provide any reports relating to his services,” governance support officer Grace Ockwell said.

Cull, a former TV personality, denied personally hiring Hodgson, but defended the deal. “I could describe it as a gentleman’s way of doing business in the south,” Cull said. He would be uncomfortable if the council always negotiated contracts verbally, but in this instance he was not concerned.

Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams questioned whether the spending was appropriate.

“Though it’s a small amount, it suggests that Dunedin Council isn’t applying the most basic internal controls,” Williams said. What other government agency spends $3400 without any documentation?”

I have no real issue with the paying Pete Hodgson to lobby for them on an issue..

But to pay $3,400 with no contract, no agreement, no report, no agreed deliverables and not even an invoice is near unheard of.

If Cull did not hire Hodgson, who did? The ratepayers do not know, because there is no documentation.

A former Minister of the Crown of all people should make sure any contracts that involved public money being paid to himself are clearly documented and agreed. A verbal agreement between a former Minister and a City Council fails the most basic transparency test.

More info on this at the Taxpayers Union. It seems the $3,400 was for assisting with two letters!

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23 Responses to “Mayor gets former MP $3,400 with no documentation”

  1. RF (1,129 comments) says:

    Bloody hell. The ghost Hodgson has no shame. He is unable to keep his snout out of the trough.

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  2. Pete George (21,812 comments) says:

    I put this to Cull yesterday. He responded:

    What you are getting Pete is misinformation. I don’t negotiate contracts or employ anyone except our chief executive, and that with Council. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Local Govt in NZ knows that. And Mr Hodgson did considerably more in this instance than write a couple of letters: including researching, analyzing, attending meetings and giving reports. He is now assisting without payment.

    I’m not sure that that clears things up.

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  3. Peter (1,468 comments) says:

    I’ll write a couple of letters for 3K. Save someone $400.

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  4. igm (864 comments) says:

    These Labour losers must be world’s greatest leechers. Whenever there is ratepayers’ swill around these slugs dive into the trough like there is no tomorrow . . . look at GWRC, and some are even dishonest.

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  5. mandk (693 comments) says:

    DPF, I can’t understand why you don’t have an issue with DCC paying Pete Hodgson to lobby for them.

    As a Dunedin MP, wasn’t it his job to represent his city’s interest in Parliament? It sounds to me like the old boys club colluding to rip-off the rate payers.

    If that’s the culture that exists down there, it’s no wonder the Dunedin economy is going down the tubes. Who would want to do business there?

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  6. Sofia (780 comments) says:

    What documentation has Pete Hodgson, as required by law, for the Inland Revenue regarding this transaction and any tax they may be due?
    At least John Banks signed SOMETHING.

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  7. Allyson (35 comments) says:

    I have a problem with MP’s being paid by a local council to do what is their job anyway. More information required here.

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  8. mandk (693 comments) says:

    Apologies, I understand that Hodgson was employed by DCC after he left Parliament (is that correct?).

    But it still smells fishy to me.

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  9. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    $3,400 for two letters – is Pete Hodgson a lawyer now?

    Sounds dodgy as fcuk to me. I’d have to work for weeks for that, and pay half of it in tax, so that these old boys can just pass it to each other in plain envelopes.

    Death by hanging.

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  10. Prince (81 comments) says:

    The fact that any organisation can make a payment without an invoice is astounding, and should invite an audit.
    Would be interesting to see if Hodgson paid tax on this.

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  11. Dave_1924 (55 comments) says:

    Hmmm – No Terms of Engagement, No deliverables, No schedule of fees and/or rates per hour and/or reimbursable expenses, no requirement for invoicing. So what about tax on the earnings? Is Mr Hodgson registered for GST purposes?
    Should a Mayor be awarding a tasty little earner to a mate in a non transparent manner?
    Does the DCC have policies and procedures around the award of work to contractors, consultants that specify contestability with appropriate contract value amounts [under a certain thresh hold award to a preferred supplier is normal practice, over the thresh hold tender is generally required by most organisations public and private]?
    Ahhhh questions, questions….. Methinks it smells bad

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  12. BeaB (1,948 comments) says:

    Not surprising. Where else do Labour ex-MPs go to find another trough? Local bodies, non-govt organisations, not-for-profits, unions, consultancies etc.

    I would love to see someone do an analysis as it is likely National former MPs go into the workforce while Labour find another cosy, well-paid sinecure, usually on the public purse.

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  13. wikiriwhis business (3,286 comments) says:

    ‘Bloody hell. The ghost Hodgson has no shame. He is unable to keep his snout out of the trough.”

    Agreed. But I would highly suspect all teh Nat MP’s recently resigned all have very good super’s straight from tax payer coffers.

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  14. JC (839 comments) says:

    Awesome hypocrisy from Hodgson.. remember when he was shadowing John Key for years to find the slightest impropriety in order to embarrass or take him down?

    JC

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  15. OneTrack (1,967 comments) says:

    What do you need documentation for? It’s only ratepayers money. More where that came from.

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  16. RF (1,129 comments) says:

    Dr. Death has no soul. I will never forget he was trying to dig up dirt on JK for the evil one Hulun and fell flat on his skinny face.

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  17. lilman (664 comments) says:

    If this is true?and noone is denying it,then it is corrupt,pure and simply,the Mayor should stand down immediately and Dr Death should be investigated by police and IRD for tax fraud.
    Its black and white,this is pure corruption.

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  18. kowtow (6,709 comments) says:

    Er ,excuse me ,but why would a mayor pay an ex MP from the opposition,someone else’s money (rates) to “lobby” the government when he could have had a word with Michael Woodhouse (National ,Dunedin List MP) to have a word?

    What’s the point of having a Mayor if he can’t pick up the phone or write a letter or two to the PM himself?

    This is just another example of how profligate our elected representatives are with other people’s money.

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  19. Elaycee (4,067 comments) says:

    This reeks of skunk.

    A payment of $3,400 was made from a local body purse without even a single piece of supporting documentation?

    If there was no remittance slip / no audit trail, was the money handed over in a brown envelope? How was it accounted for in the Council books? What has the Dunedin Council CFO got to say about it? What about the auditors?

    Even worse… given this particular matter has only surfaced because someone started digging, I think it unlikely it was a ‘one off’… Who else has been paid in this manner?

    I suspect the good folk from the OAG will be tap, tap, tapping at someone’s door soon…. :)

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  20. Honeybadger (145 comments) says:

    Lets hope, Elaycee…..

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  21. Pete George (21,812 comments) says:

    Press editorial:

    The standards that apply to council administration in the south should be no less rigorous than in Auckland city or the Whangarei district. Why should ratepayers in Dunedin tolerate a more easy-going attitude towards the spending of their money than anywhere else, just because of a romantic notion that southerners are somehow more honourable? Actually, they aren’t.

    In matters involving public money, it is absolutely essential that the principles of transparency and accountability are upheld.

    And this is a mayor who campaigned on a record of increased transparency.

    The existence of the deal only became public when documents were released under the Official Information Act. It is obviously difficult to know if any other work has been paid for under similar gentlemen’s agreements because, by definition, documentation probably does not exist.

    This is an important point. How many more “gentlemen’s agreements” might there be?

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  22. Pete George (21,812 comments) says:

    The Southland Times also slams Cull in an editorial. So far the ODT is silent but must address this tomorrow.

    Dave Cull lacks transparency in secret deal.

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  23. igm (864 comments) says:

    whiriwiwi: The recently retired Nat MPs have all come from areas where they would have more than paid for their super, and will go one to pay more. The Labour leeches get out of Parliament, then go snout ratepayers’, taxpayers’, and unionists’ troughs, having never made an honest hard-earned buck in their leeching pathetic lives, and not having the ability to do so.

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