The allegation centres on the decision to roll over the contract for the ministerial BMW's. Labour alleged that just days before the deal was signed off, John Key went to a fundraiser at BMW, and a $50,000 donation followed for the National Party. Trevor Mallard details the allegation at around the 2min mark in this speech, and Chris Hipkins continues the smear from around the 35sec mark in his contribution. Hipkins seems to have a fetish about heated seats; we don't know quite what to make about that!
Now if these allegations had any substance, there might be cause for concern. But as with so many of Labour's ham-fisted attempts to smear John Key, this one's an own goal; check out this release from the PM's Department:
Prime Minister John Key says that on a day when Labour has no answer to the National-led Government’s responsible Budget plans, it has resorted to the gutter yet again with false allegations.
“In the House today, Labour has falsely asserted corrupt dealings in relation to the contract between the Department of Internal Affairs and BMW NZ Ltd to roll over the VIP Transport contract,” says Mr Key.
“BMW NZ is not the same entity as the one named by a Labour MP today as having made a donation to the National Party.
“The company named in the House is an Auckland dealership – and is not the company which the Department of Internal Affairs signed the contract with for the replacement of the VIP Transport fleet.
“That contract was also signed under the last Labour Government - not the National Government - and rolled over by the department under its delegated authority.
“This is not only a baseless smear on my integrity, it is also a smear on the integrity of officials in the Department of Internal Affairs who are responsible for the contract."
Mr Key says New Zealanders will judge for themselves what Labour’s latest smear attempt demonstrates about the priorities of that party's MPs.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Labour saw the BMW's, saw the name Team McMillan BMW, put two and two together, and got 22! Team McMillan BMW is independantly owned, and is nothing to do with BMW New Zealand Limited, with whom the DIA was doing business. And Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins have got things wrong; yet again.
Perhaps Labour is jealous that John Key can turn up at a fundraiser, and the suits in attendance reach for their chequebooks. But the attack by Hipkins and Mallard on Key's integrity and ethics is such that if repeated outside Parliament, it could well be actionable.
When Parliament resumes at 2pm today, it would be nice to think that Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins would take points of order, and 'fess up to having got their facts wrong yesterday. That would certainly be the honourable thing to do. We won't be holding our breath though.
UPDATE: Since we typed this post last night, Labour is already in damage control mode - the Dom-Post reports this morning:
Labour MP Chris Hipkins raised questions in Parliament yesterday about a $50,000 donation to National last July 30 from Team McMillan, an Auckland BMW dealership. He said the donation followed a meeting by Mr Key's chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, with officials about the rollover of the BMWs.
Mr Hipkins later clarified that his concern was about who would sell the old BMWs. Internal Affairs said no decisions had been made yet but, in the past, old vehicles were disposed of in a variety of ways, including auctions.
Hmmmm; does anyone else sense a run for cover here?