I may be mistaken, but I haven’t seen anyone so far ask the obvious question about the management contract allegedly gifted by the McCully-appointed Niue Tourism Property Trust to Earl Hagaman’s Scenic Hotel Group just after Hagaman had made a substantial donation to the National Party.
That very obvious question is this: why is the NZ Government (or a NZ-government appointed board) in any position to granting management contracts for hotels in Niue? Indeed, why is the government in the position of granting management contracts anywhere, ever, at all.
Yes, yes, the obious answer is that the NZ Government has been putting money into Niue resorts in an effort to “boost tourism.” And since the hotel[s] in question are owned by the Government of Niue in order to “ensure oversight” the contracts are supposedly let at some minimal kind of arm’s length.
But still, to have the government’s contracts let by a group of government-appointed cronies simply invites either cronyism, or the whiff of it.
If it’s not corrupt, the process certainly invites it.
If it is corrupt, it should be receiving all the oxygen of the present publicity.
And given that every similar letting of government contracts invites the same kind of cronyistic corruption, to me it invites the even more obvious question of all: why should any government be in the position of letting contracts at all. The same whiff of cronyism arises with every so-called public-private partnership—just once reason there should be none.
Put simply, the government not be in the business of investing either in hotels – either here or in Niue – or in the tourism business, or in the job of letting contracts therein. That is properly the job of tourist operators themselves, who risk their own money not the taxpayers.
To paraphrase PJ O’Rourke: when the buying and selling of contracts is at the discretion of politicians, the first ones to be bought and sold are politicians.
And that means politicians of evry hue.