Case study four in our series on James Bews-Hair, current Principal Policy Advisor to Mayor Len Brown and ‘mate’ to Conor Roberts. Still nothing from Conor…
During his time apologising for ruining families at Sky City, Bews-Hair also became a very accomplished practitioner in the, only ever very dodgy ,realm of chequebook lobbying. I am told that he came up with, and got board agreement to, a donations policy for Sky City that made the related transactions seem open and transparent, but at the same time created the framework where he could skulk around dingy political corridors in both New Zealand and Australia with a cash-flow supercharged chequebook tucked away in his crumpled cheap suits.
The thinking was that if you made all donations above the disclosure threshold, and made sure they were fully disclosed, you could never be accused of buying anything you shouldn’t. To compliment this, Bews-Hair and others within Sky City went out of their way to tell people how there was actually nothing to buy when it came to donations.
Then he set about buying things (covered by the policy that he made sure everyone knew about) through small multiple untraceable donations. Reports are murky but apparently Peter Dunne, and whatever he called the party he was pretending to lead at the time, benefited greatly for all its help. Curiously, Anderton’s make believe party also benefited healthily. As did a number of bits and pieces MPs, all at a cost and all in total contradiction of the policy he pretended to be so proud of developing.
As a result of the cash flowing into Labour’s bank account, Mike Williams was apparently summoned to talk to managing director Evan Davies and Bews-Hair on almost a weekly basis during Labour’s (largely failed) attempt to review gambling. No wonder Sky City was granted an eye-stingingly profitable monopoly through Labour’s ban on new casinos. True to form, Sky City was outraged about this ‘gift’.
In South Australia, the rattle of coins into the trays of political parties was just as effective. Insulating the family wrecking machine from savage attacks was only part of it. In Australia they have real unions with real balls, who know how to set a strategy and stick to it.
Presumably, Bews-Hair tried to find someone as dumb as Darien Fenton in Adelaide (a futile search). Instead, Bews-Hair worked out that the biggest political beneficiary of any political success for Labor in the State wasn’t actually his good mate Mike Rann but the head of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous union – Mark Butler (now a federal Cabinet Minister). Having become very (very ) good friends with the Labor state secretary (Tim Hunter), Bews-Hair ensured that Butler was involved in every discussion about potential donations. Surprise, surprise all the predicted Union trouble Sky City would face taking over the Adelaide casino magically disappeared. All open, all above board, all disclosed.
You have to wonder what else this sneaky, attention hating Bews-Hair is prepared to pay for.