Collins resigns from cabinet

August 30, 2014

Judith Collins has resigned from cabinet but will continue to campaign for re-election in the  Papakura electorate which she holds with a solid majority.

Ms Collins resignation from cabinet followed the emergence of an email from Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater to PR operative Carrick Graham and others.

The email implies that after (then) SFO boss Adam Feeley briefed Ms Collins, information was leake to Mr Slater then, via Mr Graham, was passed on to the subject of an SFO investigation.

Prime Minister John Key said he had accepted the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government,” Mr Key said.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office (see below).

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part,” he said. . .

Ms Collins released a statement at midday saying, “A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office,” she said in a statement.

“I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I strongly denied the claim and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour.

“I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

“I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.” . . .

What someone says about someone else, in an email or anywhere else, is only hearsay and not proof of wrong-doing by them.

But the allegations are serious enough to justify an inquiry and it is appropriate that she resigns from cabinet while it is carried out.

 

 


Rural round-up

October 22, 2013

SFO confirms preliminary Zespri investigation:

 (BusinessDesk) – The Serious Fraud Office has confirmed it’s looking at legislated export marketing monopolist Zespri International, though is being tight-lipped on any further details.

The white-collar crime investigator has opened a preliminary investigation, but won’t say what it’s looking at or indicating what powers the SFO has to compel Zespri to release information.

“Zespri has not been contacted by the Serious Fraud Office and has no details of the scope or substance of an investigation,” it said in an emailed statement. “Zespri will cooperate with any investigation the Serious Fraud Office may undertake.”

Kiwi Kids Lap Up Fonterra Milk for Schools:

The numbers are in – more than 1000 schools around New Zealand are now enjoying the taste of dairy every school day thanks to Fonterra’s Milk for Schools.

From Southland to Northland, the programme has moved full steam ahead rolling out in eleven regions and reached Auckland today.

Fonterra Chief Executive Officer, Theo Spierings, said over the past five months there has been significant community support for the national rollout.

“Milk is one of the most nutritious foods there is and we want to do what we can to make sure Kiwi kids grow up drinking it every day,” said Mr Spierings. . .

Fonterra investigated over creating lake of buttermilk

The Waikato Regional Council is looking into the dumping of a milk by-product near Taupo by dairy giant Fonterra.

An unknown quantity of buttermilk has been disposed into a lake for storage at an Atiamuri farm, as the dairy giant struggles to keep up with record milk production.

Waikato Regional Council spokesman Rob Dragten says the council is looking into issues around authorisation, but says there’s no immediate threat to the environment. . .

New kids on the block take out Rural Women NZ Journalism Award:

The joint winners of this year’s Rural Women NZ Journalism award are Sarah Perriam and Tony Glynn of Rural Media.

The Rural Women award was one of twelve awards for rural journalism and photography presented at the Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ annual dinner in Wellington on Friday evening.

“Our award sets out to encourage journalism that recognises the important contribution women make either to the farming sector or to rural communities,” says Rural Women NZ national president, Liz Evans. “We congratulate Sarah and Tony, who are offering a fresh approach to producing and sharing stories about rural life, through video as well as broadcast TV.”

Sarah Perriam works on the production side, while Tony Glynn directs, acts and presents programmes for Rural Media, under its Rural TV banner. Their aim is to make rural folk ‘way more famous’. . .

Farmax offers farmers the power of bespoke pasture growth forecasts:

Farmax is the first company to offer sheep, beef and dairy farmers the ability to harness the power of the industry’s newly launched Pasture Growth Forecaster database at a more detailed level.

Farmax has launched a service called My Forecast where farmers provide the address of their property to get customised short-, medium- and long-term pasture growth forecasts specific to their own farming operation.

Farmax General Manager, Gavin McEwen said “To maximise pasture usage, farmers not only require accurate measures of current pasture cover, they also need accurate forecasts. Farmax’s My Forecast service is a powerful tool for assisting with feed planning and budgeting decisions.” . . .

 Farming for the Future….NZ is not supporting Innovation by Leading Farmers – Pasture to Profit:

 Craige & Roz MacKenzie, are the Canterbury Farm Environment Award winners 2013. Very deserving winners….Congratulations.
The MacKenzie family (including daughter Jemma) are one of the most innovative, creative, Push-The-Boundaries, Farm & Research businesses I’ve ever seen. 
 
GreenvalePastures Ltd Facebook page
Andy MacFarlane (MacFarlane Rural Business) last week chaired a very successful Ballance Farm Environment Award fieldday at Greenvale Pastures farm near Methven in Canterbury, New Zealand.
 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. The Regional Winners . . .
Rotorua to host International Forest Safety Summit on 26 & 27th November:

The past 12 months has seen forestry in the media spotlight to two main reasons – both good and bad. Since the global financial crisis hit, forest products exports, led by log exports, have proven once again to be counter-cyclical. While other industries have suffered, forest production has soared to record levels. With the record high log out-turn, from both the small and large forests up and down the country, has come a tragic toll in worker deaths. Heightened awareness driven by the Pike River mine disaster has brought a change in public attitudes to workplace risks. Safety improvement is now top-of-mind for everyone in the forest industry. While serious harm accident numbers and deaths remain much higher in farming than forestry, it is the public perception of workplace risk, underpinned by an well-funded union media campaign of self-interest, that has changed a lot of attitudes towards people working in the bush.

These combined issues have resulted in a focus by the key players in the New Zealand forest industry to drive an in-depth review of forest workplace safety. . .

Leisure and adventure tourism growth spurs backpacker lodge sale:

Capitalising on the growth of tourists’ passion for eco’ tourism, the Tailor-Made-Tekapo Backpackers is on the market for sale

The opening of two major new tourist attractions and the growing popularity of deep space star-gazing are being seen by a long-time South Island tourism operator as the ideal catalyst to retire from the business.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail which opened earlier this year in the Central South Island; the Tekapo Springs thermal resort, ice skating rink and snow park which opened in 2012; and Earth and Sky tours at Mt John Observatory, are jointly forecast to substantially increase visitor numbers to the Central South Island region.

The cycle trail is a 300 kilometre four-six day ride from Aoraki Mount Cook to Oamaru via the townships of Twizel, Omarama, Kurow and Lake Pukaki. . .


Hubbards to face charges – UPDATED

June 20, 2011

“What would you have said if this had happened under a Labour government?” my farmer asked when news broke that Allan and Jean Hubbard were being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

I would have ranted and I would have been wrong. This is a matter for the law not politics.

There is no doubt the Hubbards did a lot of good for their community and the wider economy but there are very serious questions about whose money they used to do it, albeit for no personal financial gain.

In Counting the Cost Rebecca Macfie wrote:

If the Hubbards are indeed found to have committed fraud, their famously frugal lifestyle and commitment to charity – Hubbard estimates he has given away $200 million over the years – suggest they have not profited personally. But that’s irrelevant to the SFO: “Personal gain is not necessarily a requirement of fraud or theft,” says Feeley. “If I take $100 from you and say I am going to put it in the bank, whether I give it to the IHC or bet it at the race track, either way that would be a fraudulent act.”

A law unto himself, another Listener story by Macfie, provides a good background to the saga and if you enter Hubbard as a search term in the NBR the headlines tell a very sorry story.

Now the NBR reports D-Day for Hubbards?:

The Financial Markets Authority and the Serious Fraud Office were today set to lay charges in relation to a finance company, with speculation focused on Allan Hubbard’s Aorangi Securities and Hubbard Management Funds.

NBR was aware of last minute discussions between Mr Hubbard’s lawyer Mike Heron and the SFO over how the decision would be announced. A press release was due to be sent out by the regulators today.

It is a year and a day since the news first broke that the SFO was investigating the Hubbards.

It will have been a hard year for them – and for the people who trusted them with their money who will be lucky to get much, if any of it back among whom are the taxpayers who guaranteed deposits.

UPDATE: NBR reports: Hubbard to face 50 charges.


Neutron bomb or damp squib?

October 29, 2008

Labour must be worried that the fallout from Winston Peters’ lobbying to appoint  Owen Glenn as honorary counsul to Monaco is reflecting badly on Helen Clark and endangering Labour’s chances of re-election.

Bill Ralston  said:

Over the past couple of weeks the polls showed an increasing trickle of voters dribbling back to NZ First as their memories of Peters’ embarrassments of the last few months began to fade in the glare of the election campaign. Their doubts will now be reawakened.

It is a bitter blow for Labour and Helen Clark. They had been counting on NZ First just cresting the 5% MMP barrier and effectively slamming the door on Key’s chances of forming a government.

The depth of their concern is evidenced by the release of their “neutron bomb”.

It’s an attempt to link John Key to the H-fee white collar crime.

But the Herald story is linked to one which quotes former Serious Fraud Office head Charles Sturt saying Key had nothing to do with the matter.

That suggests it’s a damp squib.


SFO – no NZ First fraud

October 10, 2008

The Serious Fraud Office investigation has found that there was no fraud involved in the doantions to New Zealand First from Sir Robert Jones and the Vela brothers.

However, Director Grant Lidell said other laws may have been broken.


Collision course

September 25, 2008


Cullen no confidence in SFO?

September 18, 2008

TV1 news has just reported that Michael Cullen refused to express confidence in the Serious Fraud Office after this afternoon’s privileges committee hearing into Winston Peters and the donation debacle.

Does that mean there’s a problem with the SFO performance or does it mean Cullen doesn’t like where their investigations into Peters and New Zealand First is taking them?

Update: Keeping Stock  explains the seriousness of this Cullen is Attorney General and one of the roles of that office is the responsibility for the SFO.

Matthew Hooton  is even blunter.


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