Danya Levy at Stuff reports:
The Government says the Green Party’s implication that Westpac Bank has bought access to ministers through generous corporate hospitality is wrong.
Replies to questions from the Greens to the Government show that nine ministers accepted hospitality from Westpac in the past year, including box seats at the Rugby Sevens, dinner at the White House restaurant in Wellington and tickets to rock concerts.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett attended last year’s Bon Jovi concert in Wellington in the Westpac Corporate Box.
The answers also show staff of 13 ministers accepted similar hospitality from Westpac.
The Greens say ministers should not be accepting hospitality from Westpac when the Government’s master banking contract held by the bank is under review.
First of all people should realise that the Green Party do not want a fair competitive tender for the Government’s banking contract. They hate Westpac and have been campaigning against it for many years.
However, a spokesman for Finance Minister Bill English said the ”implication the Government had been influenced by the hospitality was wrong”.
Since 2005 the Government had negotiated ongoing contractual price reductions for contract services, he said.
”The Government last year stated its clear intention to run a procurement process for Government banking designed to achieve value for money. Officials have already begun scoping work on the process.
”This will be the first time in over 20 years that the Government’s master banking contract has been opened to a competitive process.”
Which is how it should be. And Treasury will make a recommendation to the Minister of Finance, or may even decide themselves.
It is nice to get to watch a rugby game or concert from a corporate box. I’ve been a guest at a few, including Westpac’s. You get a standard meal, some beer or wine and a sheltered seat. It’s a nice evening out. But trust me no one is going to be trying to influence a tender based on that. Maybe the Greens really think that politicians can be bought so easily – but if so that is more a reflection on themselves.
”The fact that so many ministers had staff who also accepted Westpac’s largesse is disquieting, given the central role of ministerial staff in influencing the decisions of their busy Ministers.”
This is even more preposterous. Let’s look at how Green world thinking goes. We invited (for example) the Press Secretary to the Minister of Police to the rugby. And because he is in our eternal debt for getting to go go to the rugby, he will then lobby his fraternal press secretaries at their weekly coven meetings. This will then get the Press Secretary to the Minister of Finance on side. He will then lobby the Minister of Finance and say “Hey boss, fuck all this tender notice. Westpac gave Steve a nice ticket to the rugby, so lets give them the Government contract”. And Bill will then say “Yeah. I’m going to instruct Treasuey to tilt the tender towards Westpac, so only they can win. This will involve around 30 public servants having to join the conspiracy, but fuck it Steve is a great guy, and they might nit invite him again. So to make sure the Press Secretary to the Minister of Police gets invited back again to the rugby, we’ll do it.”