Mike Williams, Owen Glenn and Steven Ching: Labour's bag man and his ATMs
Remember the Steven Ching affair? Remember how reluctant the Labour Party President, Mike Williams, was to dump him from the list despite his lies and allegations of selling honours? Remember:
Labour candidate Steven Ching is alleged to have offered to use his Government connections to have a friend appointed as a justice of the peace.
Chinese broadcaster Paul Liu says he refused a request from Ching for a $50,000 loan in exchange.
Ching resigned as a JP after Herald on Sunday revelations led to the discovery of two undisclosed convictions, but the Labour Party says his winnable place on the party list is secure.
... and then remember:
In the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Labour Party, list candidate Steven Ching was asked to stand down over claims that he offered to get a man appointed as a justice of the peace in exchange for a $50,000 loan.
It took a very long time for the party, ie. Williams, to stand Ching down. The party, ie. Williams, was well prepared to staunch it out even after Ching was forced to resign as a JP. Why? Because he was the Labour Party's Chinese ATM. They, ie. Williams, didn't care how Ching got the money or where or from who. Ching was given a list placing so high he would almost certainly be an MP, because that was the pay-off for his cash (gathering abilities for the party). Oh, he was (allegedly) offering public/quasi-judicial offices for money - but hey, it's "don't ask - don't tell" as far as they, ie. Williams, is concerned. But that was all in 2005 and they learnt their lesson from that didn't they, ie. Williams, - well no, of course not. There was no punishment, no real scrutiny of the dodgy modus operandi of the Labour Party's bag men, ie. Williams, and so it is all business as usual in 2008.
So this time round we have a gullibly lapped up orchestrated facade of accountability by the party, ie. Williams, who leaks to the media that he offered to resign. He jests. And we have Owen Glenn receiving the love, and he just happens to be funding Labour and (allegedly) was behind an offer to bribe the Maori party to support Labour after the last election, along with now being mooted for an honorary consulship in the tax haven he claims to nominally be resident in... Good grief!
Just like Ching the party, ie. Williams, will want to keep his tentacles around this walking ATM for as long as possible - regardless of the damage and the poor image and the "Nats-have-big-business-links" hypocrisy of which the public are now becoming more aware.
More disturbingly than any of this is the question of "What's in it for Owen Glenn:
My guess is that Glenn was promised preferred bidding status for the opportunity to clip the ticket for the next twenty years of every motorist who drives through the the tunnel that goes under Helen's house.
Have a look at where Mike Williams holds directorships. Transit NZ, Ontrack and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority. Who better could you approach to put in a good word in the right place?
Oh, does it sound a bit far-fetched? Labour would be expected to be ideologically opposed to Public-Private Partnerships, or at least opposing that policy purely on the grounds it would almost certainly disadvantage the State and the public to enrich private business interests, but no they are enthusiastically towing Treasury's line and seeking to make it work - starting in the transport sector - of which by the way coincidentally Glenn made his fortune. And that's where we ought to remember this man: Ross Armstrong. He was the National turn-coat head-kicker who would be the conduit between the Labour government and big business.
From theHerald editorial of the time:
We learn that the subject of his letter - partnerships between the Government and the private sector for infrastructure projects - was discussed at a dinner he had last Wednesday with the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, who has experience of "public-private partnerships".
The next day Dr Armstrong sent the offending letter to companies he thought might be interested in helping ministers to formulate policies for such partnerships. His mistake was to include a phrase which suggested there might be a benefit to the companies that agreed to take part. They stood to gain "first mover advantage in terms of future involvement in [the] projects".
Armstrong took his sweet time resigning too. But he may have had the professional ability to realise that he had crossed a line. Who thinks that Williams has anything even approaching that comprehension?
Williams is president of the Labour Party, and as such he isn't a policy boffin, he isn't an ideological champion, he isn't a font of Labour principles and nor is he a gatekeeper of the spirit of the legacy of Holland and Savage; he is a bag man, he is a fund-raiser and nothing more. As such he has a warped perspective and has proven himself prone to making some awfully shabby deals with the people who have money in order to secure that money. How many more deals and what of their nature?