Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will be speaking with Transport Minister Michael Wood this morning before making a judgement over partially declared Auckland Airport shares.
National’s acting Auckland spokesperson Paul Goldsmith described Wood’s $13,000 worth of shares as a “clear conflict of interest for a Minister of Transport responsible for Auckland’s transport network and as Minister for Auckland”.
“For more than a year as Transport Minister, from late 2020 to early 2022, he did not declare his holding. That is a clear breach of the Cabinet Manual. His position may be untenable.”
Wood said he did declare the shares in the Register of Pecuniary interests last year “when I became aware that I had made an error early on and not declaring them, so this is not a new issue”.
“I declared them in the register last year.”
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Wood said he made the Cabinet Office fully aware of the shares from the beginning of his time as Minister.
He said the first year he was a Minister, “which I apologise for, because I got this wrong, I had instructed the person who deals with these things for me to effectively get rid of those shares”.
“I thought that had happened. I was wrong about that. So I didn’t declare them that year.”
He said when he prepared his Register of Pecuniary in the following year, he realised he still held the shares. He then declared the shares.
“I have acknowledged in this case is that I have made an error in terms of not declaring these shares earlier on. I did declare them last year and I did from the beginning of my time as Minister, make Cabinet Office fully aware of the shares that I held.”
Hipkins said the situation was “certainly not helpful, but I’m going to have a conversation with him about it”.
Opposition leader Christopher Luxon said Hipkins should have suspended Wood “immediately”, then arrived at Parliament on Tuesday “with some proper answers” about the situation.
“We have absolute standards, and it’s mission-critical in New Zealand we can trust our Government and our governance.
“As soon as you start to have relative standards, not absolute standards, that’s a real problem in New Zealand.”