Vernon Small reports:
Labour leader David Shearer has backed MP Clayton Cosgrove who has faced criticism for drafting a law that would have benefited a friend.
Cosgrove has publicly declared $17,500 in donations from Independent Fisheries, whose chief executive, Mike Dormer, is a longstanding friend.
The company was one of several that stood to gain from the law drafted in 2009. It was never drawn from Parliament’s members’ bill ballot and Cosgrove let it lapse in 2010 after the Canterbury earthquake.
Shearer said Cosgrove was “as honest as the day is long”.
I commented on Twitter yesterday that it was another unfortunate quote to defend Cosgrove, being made in the middle of winter when the days are at their shortest.
The Dom Post editorial touches on their other defence:
Warning bells should ring in the Labour caucus room whenever the party’s MPs find themselves defending colleagues on the basis that the only thing they are guilty of is “helping their constituents”.
That, they should remember, was the explanation Helen Clark and her deputy Michael Cullen tendered when questions were first asked about former Labour MP Phillip Field’s efforts to secure citizenship for Thai immigrants who just happened to be doing cut-price work on his South Auckland rental properties and Samoan retreat. That didn’t turn out too well. Mr Field has only just emerged from prison after being convicted on bribery and corruption charges.
Labour’s defence of Cosgrove has been very clumsy. I’m presuming this is incompetence, not malice.
Given his personal relationship with Mr Dormer – a “mate” – and the fact Independent Fisheries has donated a total of $20,500 to his electorate campaigns – an unusually large sum – it would have been wise for him to publicly declare his relationship with Mr Dormer and distance himself from any initiatives that could benefit the company. He did not. As late as August last year he was writing to Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee advocating on behalf of landowners in the affected areas.
That is fair criticism. It is the lack of disclosure – which extends beyond the statutory regime in the Electoral Act. I also criticised John Banks for his advocacy of behalf of Kim Dotcom – but Banks was at the time only a private citizen, while Cosgrove was an MP, and actually writing legislation to benefit a donor.