Andrew Little’s stunt to smear the Hagamans and National with the Auditor-General has blown up in his face.
The Auditor General has found there was nothing unusual about the selection of Scenic Hotel Group as the operator of a Niue tourism resort at the centre of a political row over a six figure donation to National.
Auditor General Lyn Provost said from the available information her office had found there was a standard procurement process with reasoned and documented analysis for the selection of Scenic Hotel Group to operate the resort, and for the subsequent investment of New Zealand international development assistance funds in expanding the resort.
The contract was referred to Provost by Labour leader Andrew Little after he questioned the company’s links to National.
Scenic Hotel Group founder Earl Hagaman, and wife Lani, made a donation to the National Party during the 2014 election of $101,000. Scenic Hotel Group. A month later the company won a tender to manage the Matavai resort in Niue, which receives funding from the New Zealand Government.
Little is now being sued for defamation by the Hagaman’s after refusing to apologise and retract a statement that the deal “stunk to high heaven”.
In a letter published on the website of the Office of the Auditor General on Wednesday, Provost said there was a standard procurement process involving expressions of interest and request for proposal stages with reasoned and documented analysis for the selection of Scenic Hotel Group as the operator for the resort.
The procurement process was administered by Horwath HTL Limited (Horwath HTL), and the selection of Scenic Hotel Group as the operator for the resort was consistent with the advice Horwath HTL provided to hotel owners, Matavai Niue Limited.
“On 28 June 2013, a Ministry email recommended that information already provided to Scenic Hotel Group be made available to other operators in the procurement process to ensure that no company had a significant advantage or disadvantage over others. The available information indicates that a confidential Information Memorandum was provided to three shortlisted hotel operators (including to Scenic Hotel Group on 11 April 2014) after the expression of interest stage of the procurement process. This appears to include detailed actual and budget financial information, other key performance information, and other important information about the resort. We have not seen any evidence about the effect, if any, of those circumstances on the procurement process run by Horwath HTL.
“Scenic Hotel Group was identified as the preferred tenderer from May 2014, after which there was an ongoing negotiation of contractual terms.”
The procurement process required potential hotel operators not to “approach, directly or indirectly lobby or attempt to influence or provide any form of incentive to” any of the parties involved, including the New Zealand and Niue Governments. It also required potential hotel operators to “disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest”.
Provost said “we found no evidence in the available information of conflicts of interest being disclosed during the procurement process”.
The Hagamans now have Andrew Little by the balls. Sometime next year – election year – the fool is going to be spending 4 weeks in a High Court getting slammed day after day in a defamation trial.
Not only will Labour have no money but neither will Andrew Little. Word is the caucus are all telling him to get stuffed over being taxed to fund his folly.
Buggered if I know why he didn’t back down. He was wrong, he should have apologised especially with Jacinda’s dad involved. Apparently, he (Ardern) is about the straightest, most non-dodgy bloke there is.