Williamson conflict of interest not managed

Answers to written Parliamentary Questions and Official Information Act requests indicate that little has been done to manage Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson's potential conflict of interest, Grant Robertson, Labour’s Deputy Leader says.

"When concerns were raised about Maurice Williamson's role as a director of air conditioning company Holyoake Industries while being Building and Construction Minister, he told media: "On becoming a Minister, I instructed officials that I would not receive papers on, and would withdraw from, discussions about heating and ventilation because of my directorship of Holyoake Industries Ltd."

"However answers from Mr Williamson to Parliamentary Questions and information from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment indicate that there is no record of any such instruction going to the officials who would actually be supplying papers on heating and ventilation matters.

"All Mr Williamson and the Prime Minister can point to are discussions with the Cabinet Office, at the end of which John Key agreed to Mr Williamson being allowed to stay on as Minister.

"That’s meaningless, unless there is some record of officials in the former Department of Building and Housing (now part of MoBIE) being aware of a process to manage the conflict of interest.

"I still believe that it is farcical to try to separate out heating and ventilation issues from other building issues.  But even on this flimsy basis, the conflict of interest is not being managed.

"Avoiding and managing conflicts of interest matters.  If they are not dealt with properly they will undermine the public's confidence in the fairness and transparency of decision making by government.

"This Government’s record on fairness and transparency is in tatters, given the Sky City deal, the cover-ups over the Hobbit deal and rampant cronyism in places like NZ On Air.  John Key promised higher standards, but all we have seen is a flagrant disregard for a transparent and accountable government,” says Grant Robertson.