David Shearer's failure to declare a US-based bank account
containing more than $50,000 on the MPs' Register of
Pecuniary Interests was an "unfortunate" mistake of a type
the Labour Party is quick to criticise the Government for,
Prime Minister John Key says.
The Labour leader yesterday owned up to what he said was an
oversight. He has asked Registrar Dame Margaret Bazley to
belatedly add the account at Chase Bank in the United States
to his entry in the register, where MPs are required to list
their assets, debts and gifts.
"In the end it's a matter for him," Mr Key said this morning.
"People make mistakes. I make mistakes and when I do, I try
and tell people I've made them. It's just that you don't get
cut any slack from the Labour Party when you say you've made
a mistake but when they make one they don't want anyone to
have a look at it."
Mr Key noted the account's balance was above the $50,000
threshold above which it must be declared, "so it could be
quite a bit more than that".
Mr Shearer this morning again refused to say how much was in
"I'm not going to go down that road. This is something
between my family and myself but it's over the threshold and
as a result I've a duty to declare it."
Mr Shearer said his discovered the error because he was
filling in his tax return at the same time as filling out his
return for Parliament's register of pecuniary interests and
"saw that I hadn't put it on there".
"Frankly I was horrified that I'd overlooked it and I moved
straight away to correct it."
But Mr Shearer, who has previously criticised Mr Key for
memory lapses in relation to GCSB briefings on Kim Dotcom and
on which way he voted on alcohol reform, denied he was guilty
of a double standard.
"When I myself found that (bank account) error I made the
move to correct it, I didn't wait for anybody else to find
Mr Shearer indicated he'd omitted the bank account from the
pecuniary interest form three times before he discovered his
error last month.
"I understand people are obviously bemused by it. I had no
excuse and I'm not trying to make an excuse. I wish had seen
it some time before."
Mr Shearer's 2012 pecuniary interest register entry included
interests in two trusts, a family home and second house in
Auckland, a section in Northland, where he spends holidays,
his UN pension scheme, parliamentary super scheme and a
superannuation trust. He also disclosed a term deposit and a
mortgage, as well as tickets for Rugby World Cup games.
Since 2005, MPs have been required to disclose all their
financial interests in the register each year. Those
interests include debts, assets such as property or shares
and gifts worth more than $500.
Late additions to the register because of oversights are not
unusual - last year, National's Phil Heatley added a
KiwiSaver account, Labour's Jacinda Ardern added tickets to a
Tony Blair speaking event, and National's Chris Tremain added
Rugby World Cup tickets.
However, some late entries are more controversial. Act leader
John Banks last year belatedly declared a gift basket from
Kim Dotcom he received while he was on holiday in Hong Kong.
He had said he did not realise it was over the $500 limit.
Mr Key yesterday would not comment on Mr Shearer's omission,
saying it was up to Mr Shearer. In 2008, Mr Key came under
questioning about TranzRail shares his family trust had held
in 2002 and 2003. Those shares were sold before the Register
of Pecuniary Interests began in 2005.
- By Adam Bennett and Claire Trevett of the New Zealand