Nationals cronyism at epidemic levels | The Jackal

23 Jul 2012

Nationals cronyism at epidemic levels

Today, 3 News reported:

Former Cabinet minister Nick Smith is under scrutiny again - this time over allegations about fees given to an environment consultant friend.

The former Environment Minister approved $180,000 in taxpayer money last year to pay for the new Mackenzie Sustainable Futures Trust, set up to help resolve a dispute between farmers and environmentalists over projects in the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley.

The trust, which initially received $100,000, almost ran out of money in November before releasing its findings.

Its application to the Environment Ministry for a further $200,000 was declined earlier this year, but Dr Smith granted the trust a further $80,000, documents released to Fairfax under the Official Information Act reveal.

Mackenzie District Council and Waitaki District Council each put up $5000, while Environment Canterbury contributed $10,000.

More than half of the total funding went to environmental consultants, including $88,010 to policy think-tank the Ecologic Foundation, which is headed by Dr Smith's friend Guy Salmon, a former National Party candidate with ties to the party's environmental wing, the BlueGreens.

The documents show a series of two-day meetings cost about $25,000 per event, with Mr Salmon receiving about $18,000 per meeting.

The article goes on to quote John Key, who is dismissive of the revelations. The reason for his nonchalance is because cronyism is widespread within National ranks, and this is but one example of how the rightwing generally operates.

Being that Nick Smith went against the Ministry for the Environment's decision and granted further funding to his mates in the Mackenzie Sustainable Futures Trust, surely there can be no return to a cabinet position for the corrupt MP?

Such practices are entirely unacceptable, especially in these tough economic times.