Monday, 22 March 2010


Its August 1999 - A bitter winter chills the National Party as they face the prospect of losing the looming election.

Ross Meurant is working for Philip Vela. Vela is one of the great pioneers of the New Zealand Deep Sea Fishery - he is a big man who likes getting his own way fast. He is a heavy weight in the Fishing Industry Association the FIA - the big quota owners of the industry. The FIA was to have been dissolved with the formation of the inclusive Seafood Industry Council ( Seafic.) However they don't and for a while there is an internal war within the Seafood industry for power.

Meurant, employed specifically to get traction on some big ticket policy items for Vela reports on his progress each week. We have copies of those reports and screeds of other correspondence on a number of issues, about fishing, tax, the Rodney district council and other stuff like the insiders guide to NZ First. More on that soon.

The job Meurant was tasked to do for Vela was what became known as the " UN fish issue" a crap piece of legislation that put New Zealand flagged vessels at a disadvantage. Seafic was lobbying on the same issue.

So Meurant lobbied , as he was paid to do for Vela - the Leader of United NZ Peter Dunne to vote against the bill and the contentious UN clause.

Dunne, on the 16th of August 1999 states the Meurant position in a press release and calls on the government to " think again" on the bill.

However, Meurant gets sidetracked and instead of just lobbying politicians on the issue he takes a crack at a couple of the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council senior staff. In an effort to curry favour, he tells his boss he is going to discredit some of the Seafic staff knowing it will be music to Vela's ears.

From the Meurant report dated 22 August 1999

"In respect of my feeding a "scare" into the system i.e making it known that I have material on both ( John) Valentine ( the then CE of Seafic) and (Tony ) Craig (the then head of policy and strategy) relating to their competence and integrity respectively, this is just to remind them they don't have all the muskets. A calculated initiative you might speculate, but I don't have anything to lose. "

His final note at the end of the report is this:

Note: I appreciate it is not my money I am dealing with when I make suggestions such as follows but I do believe that there is much merit in providing Peter Dunne with $5000 towards his election campaign fund. It would be helpful for me on Wednesday if I were in a position to advise him that a donation had been approved.
Who said politician was not a dirty word!

Dunne was paid the $5000 in October 1999. Despite putting out the press release he eventually voted for the bill.
Dunne denied being paid for policy to both to the Dominion and in this curious interview he did with local journalism students on the issue.

For the record we worked with both Valentine and Craig. They are both highly competent and men of integrity.

Is there more? - yes.


Anonymous said...

An honest politician: One who stays bought.


Anonymous said...

Check your timings _ no way this proves Dunne was bought. What it does do is reinforce what a sleazebag Meurant is.

Keeping Stock said...

Veeeeeerrry interesting - keep 'em coming!

pdm said...

What INV2 says.

JC said...

The timeline indicates that Meurant recommended $5000 be paid to Dunnes party in August, Dunne then voted *against* Veala's interests in September, but still donated to Dunnes party in October.

This would seem to indicate that any quid pro quo was in the future.


Anonymous said...

I worked with John Valentine for many years and he is the soul of integrity.