Pretty disappointed with Vernon Small’s analysis in today’s DomPost of the Mediaworks debacle, where he lets Steven Joyce off the hook and by implication the rest of his government for any dodgy goings on in giving Mediaworks a $43m loan to defer radio licences.
Small neglects to mention that it wasn’t just Joyce involved. What about Key, Brownlee and Coleman’s involvement? That’s quite a lot of Ministers.
It’s my understanding that Joyce may not have been the first point of call from Mediaworks. There certainly were others involved in pushing for that decision against departmental advice. That doesn’t make him any less culpable for his government’s decisions. But the issue isn’t just about Joyce.
It’s about how a government can be so lacking in transparency about how such a deal was entered into.
And whether it should have been entered into at all.
And what it represented.
Instead Small says this:
You might even wonder if the pressure applied to local subsidiaries by the financial requirements of their overseas owners – in this case MediaWorks’ owners Ironbridge – should be ignored for fear it will be used to “game” extra concessions from the Government.
But describing the arrangement in the strong terms the Opposition has adopted goes too far in an effort to make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse.
Suggestions that Mr Joyce, the communications and information technology minister, had some sort of conflict of interest in helping out the Brent Impey-led company (that Mr Joyce established) survives only till you know that Mr Joyce and Mr Impey are . . . errr . . . not close.
I dunno what other terms one could use to describe it. Dodgy and cronyism seem pretty tame to me. And making Steven Joyce into some kind of maligned being is a bit rich. Look at what’s going on in two of his other portfolios.
There’s currently an Auditor General inquiry into the link between former National Party Minister Pansy Wong’s husband Sammy and the deals being done by Kiwirail and the Chinese rail company that Wong was associated with. It appears that the Govt has backed off sending the major Auckland electric trains contract to China North Rail (decision in the last few days), but there are other major flatdeck wagon deals likely to go their way.
This week we discover that Joyce’s current chief Ministerial adviser on broadband was named as the chief adviser to Telecom during a major anti-competitive deal in the early 2000s. This has resulted in Telecom receiving a record $12 million fine and the adviser, Bruce Parkes, being named in the court judgement. Did Joyce know about this case when Bruce Parkes was employed? Did he care? It appears not.
But it’s interesting that Joyce’s broadband scheme is being accused of the same anti-competitiveness right now.
Re Mediaworks, the essence of Small’s analysis seems to hinge on the fact that Brett Impey from Mediaworks and Joyce are no longer close. That may well be. I reckon I know why. It’s not really the point. Because Joyce’s relationship with Mediaworks goes back a long way.
And TV3 and the mediaworks radio stations wield considerable influence on our news screens and airwaves. And it is election year.
Another interesting thing. Did Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman attend a Mediaworks board meeting a few months ago? Was the future of TVNZ7 discussed? What else was discussed? Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall.
Oh, and then a week ago former Jim Bolger press sec Richard Griffin was made chair of the Radio NZ board. Keep them quiet and compliant will no doubt be his brief.
TVNZ has already been instructed it is no longer a public broadcaster.
So much for independent, vibrant, critical analysis and public broadcasting.