After massive billboard front-page and editorial beat-ups when the issue first arose, the Nash enquiry finally published its report. But both Stuff and the Herald barely mentioned it. Why?
The answer is because what the enquiry revealed was Nash’s “offences” were technical and largely trivial and the media beat-up was over the top.
My company’s name was bandied about as one of the allegedly corrupt donors at the time.
National leader Luxon, it will be recalled, shot his mouth off and accused us and others as guilty of inside trading, although how, he didn’t explain. My company manager Greg Loveridge, not a litigious type by nature, who was overseas most of the year, on hearing of this returned home and sought legal advice about suing him for libel and would have bolted home, but eventually he simmered down.
Nash, a long-time acquaintance, has received a token $5,000 each election in recent years from us. So too other Labour and National MP friends. Greg for example, gives much more personally to a current Labour Cabinet Minister, a close friend going back nearly 40 years to their university days.
And our, or more specifically Greg’s offence? That was when the Government was first mooting paying subsidies to retailers to cover staff wages during the lockdown, this then an issue for Nash’s ministerial port-folio. When it was initially publicised that this would only cover smaller retailers, “small” to be determined by staff numbers, Greg simply advised Nash that many large Australian retail chains actually had smallish employee numbers in each shop; nothing more. Eventually, the government did the practical thing and took a blanket approach for all retail employers.
None of this affected us, indeed as Greg pointed out to me, we’ve forfeited over $10 million in waiving rentals for many retail lessees during that period. Wages after all are only a small component of their operational costs.
Luxon libeled Greg and my company with his ignorant inside trading accusation. It will be the measure of the man whether he now apologises but I won’t hold my breathe.
That said, I wonder if we’re being over-precious about this sort of thing. Over the past 40 years I’ve frequently been called by Ministers and Opposition politicians seeking advice on topics I have knowledge on.
Rightly uneasy at the Arthur Allan Thomas conviction Rob Muldoon sought a number of opinions including mine. When he found his concern was widespread he instigated an enquiry leading eventually to Thomas’s acquittal and receipt of compensation.
I could give numerous examples of similar situations and that’s the way it should be.