Wednesday, November 21, 2012

John Banks and Talent2

John Banks was a shareholder in Talent2, the company behind Novapay that was contracted by the Government to provide the payroll system to the Ministry of Education. The 2012 Register of Pecuniary Interests states this on the Parliament website. John Banks is also the Associate Minister of Education.

Banks has since released a statement:

The Hon John Banks Family Trust has not held shares in Talent2 International Limited since 28 May 2012 when Talent2 moved to privatise the company and de-list from the Australian stock exchange.

Or, to put it another way, John Banks has not held shares since he could no longer do so. The choice was taken away from him due to the de-listing of the company.

Mr Banks advised the Cabinet Office of the sale of his Family Trust’s shares on 29 May 2012. 

Mr Banks became a shareholder in Talent2 as a result of Talent2’s acquisition of Sugar International Limited which the Hon John Banks’ Family Trust held shares in. 

What was Sugar International (formerly Business Solutions) involved in and why did Talent2 acquire it?  His relationship was more than shareholder of Sugar International as he was also the Chairman. He also bought half share into the company and the Huljich family was also involved. The long sorry saga of that particular relationship can be found on NBR. Needless to say there were charges.

John Wall was the Managing Director of Sugar International alongside John Banks and founded the company in 2001. John Wall is now CEO of RTO at Talent2. Banks was Wall's mentor and they remain 'firm friends'.

Talent2's relationship with the NZ Government is more than just Novopay and the payroll system. They also are involved within other areas as well. Putting talent2 into the parliamentary website pulls up such examples as this.

Mr Banks declared his Family Trust’s shareholding in Talent2 to the Cabinet Office when he first became a Minister.   

He has to. It's required.  Like donations. *slowly raises left eyebrow until it falls off head*

He has never received any government information or briefings regarding Talent2 (or any company they are connected to), or participated in any discussions at either Cabinet or Cabinet Committee. 

A follow up tweet from the ACT Party, who are suddenly interested in me, bless:

. No discussions occurred in front of him. He declared potential conflict and was not involved in any discussions.

So he has a relationship with at least one person that we know who works for Talent2 and we can be relieved to hear that he never participated in, or heard, any discussion about an issue involving a portfolio that he is Associate Minister for. Yay, Government!

I know nothing, I heard nothing, I remember nothing. A slogan for this current Government if there ever was one.

The issue of the pay system is outside Mr Banks' responsibilities as Associate Minister of Education, and the Novopay contract was signed off in September 2008 by the previous Labour Government. 

Absolutely, it was. The original contact was signed under a different Government. But apparently this particular contract may not be as cut and dry as all that.

Note: Andrew Banks, Chairman of Talent2, is not related to Hon John Banks.


Who knows, maybe John Banks is squeaky clean on this. Squeaky clean like bee pollen. But what a gamble to take. *snare drum*

Business doesn't need to lobby Government any more, because Business is Government. There is a definite incestuous vibe with some of the wheelings and dealings that are going on, and with huge amounts of public money going into the pockets of private companies I think there needs to a much greater scrutiny undertaken by media and the opposition to make sure that there isn't anything untoward going on during such things as tendering processes. It might not be as sexy as teapots and coups but it's definitely needed.

I'm not media, and so not the right person for the job, but if someone could look into this and other contracts, such as with Serco (which is so god damn controversial and yet barely a squeak from press here), that would be fantastic. Boring work, sure, but if you did find something out you can run after politicians and shove microphones at them and that's always fun and makes for great tv.

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