Did John Key walk into a trap today?
Question Three was sufficiently vague to allow an enormous scope for supplementary questions, and David Shearer did leap all over the place. And got pulled up by the Speaker for it.
But, one of the supplementaries related to the appointment of Stephen McElrea to the Board of NZ On Air. I
I've not paid much attention to the matter. Mr McElrea has commented about a documentary on poverty being screened perilously close to the election, I'd watched the documentary and wasn't concerned about the timing (the contents were much more relevant). I was aware that Stephen McElrea is also the chair of Mr Key's electorate committee, and I put the "timing o the documentary" comments down to politics/supporting the team.
Turns out John Key chaired the parliamentary committee that made the NZOA appointment. When I heard the answer to the supplementary question - where Mr Key confirmed he chaired the committee - the "potential conflict of interest" alarms went off. The typically glib response, about the committee also appointing Michael Cullen to the board of NZ Post, suggests that Mr Key has no concerns about a potential conflict of interest. I think he would have been better off explaining that he recused himself from this particular decision.
So while it could have been better, it could also be worse. Much worse. [The Armchair Critic heads off to wild speculation-land] If John Key was involved in any way with the appointment of Stephen McElrea to the board of NZOA, if he failed to recuse himself, that's not just "a potential or apparent conflict of interest". That's a full on unmitigated conflicted of interest, and cronyism, nepotism and corruption. Nick Smith's recent ministerial indiscretions pale in comparison. If it happened. [The Armchair Critic returns from wild speculation-land]
So, the next question is "As chair of the committee that appointed Stepehn McElrea to the board of NZ On Air, what steps did the Prime Minister take to meet the Cabinet Manual requirements to avoid potential and real conflicts of interest?"