Opinion: Oravida's $56,600 golf photo with John Key

  • Breaking
  • 19/03/2014

The golfing photo of Oravida owner Stone Shi and Prime Minister John Key was the result of an up to $56,600 donation to the National Party.

We have of course always known about the golf game - John Key has previously said it came from Shi getting the winning bid at a "charity" auction.

It turns out the "charity" was the National Party.

Key's office has confirmed the golf game related to two 2011 donations from Oravida - one for $1600 and one for $55,000.

We have always known about the donations - both were declared required by law as donations from Oravida.

What is new is that the Shi/Key golf game are directly related.

Until now, we could have been right in thinking the "charity" auction was for so something like the Starship Children's Hospital, rather than a fundraiser for National.

But asked directly yesterday if the golf auction was a National Party fundraiser, Key said "probably".

Key's office then said it was related to the two donations (there is no requirement for National to say "golf game").

Then the National Party head office via its general manager Greg Hamiliton issued a statement saying they weren't going to say what the two Oravida donations were linked to - whoops, bit slow guys!

So either the $1600 or the $55,000 donation- or both - were for the golf game; up to a $56,600 donation.

It was an expensive game for Stone Shi, and the National Party did alright of it.

Key loves golf so he didn't mind - he jokes it's better for his waistline than dinners with him like at Antoine's being sold off as a fundraiser.

The donations were around election time in 2011 and the golf game took place in October 2012.

The photo is proudly up on Oravida's website, there were questions about the whole promotion/endorsement/Cabinet manual issue a year ago.

The website says Stone Shi "a passionate and extremely competent golfer" played Key "a keen and competent golfer". It was "light hearted" and a "fun event".

All this is "within the rules", as politicians of all colours like to say when it comes to donations.

The question for the Prime Minister is why didn’t he just say so earlier? Why did he say on The Nation "I mean when I played golf for them it was because I was bought at a charity event and he bought that charity event". (Key has explained he was talking about charity auctions in general.)

Stone Shi has kept on the down-low but he's built a massively successful business exporting bottles of fresh milk to China.

Oravida flies the milk direct. It's there in twelve hours and is delivered to the doorstep of the Chinese who want it. It sells for $25 plus a bottle.

Stone Shi's done well enough to buy the Hotchin Mansion on Paritai Drive and, as we all now know, counts Justice Minister Judith Collins as a close personal friend and has her husband David Wong-Tung as a director of Oravida.

I just met Stone Shi for the first time, along with Oravida Managing Director Julia Xu at a dinner for Kiwi exporters in Beijing.

Shi seemed like a decent bloke and while he didn’t want to comment seemed to enjoy a bit of media attention - he certainly has a success story to tell.

Stone Shi of course is guilty of nothing in this. He likes getting close to politicians, getting pictures with them - it is good for business in China.

Our politicians like him too - Tim Groser was heard telling Stone Shi “we appreciate the work you are doing” referring to his export success.

And Stone Shi got another money shot at the Beijing dinner - another handshake photo with Key, taken by Julia Xu.

3 News

source: newshub archive

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